Screening for Cancer - Early Detection
Ms. Angelina Jolie’s recent decision to prophylactically have a double mastectomy reminds us of the high level of concern regarding breast cancer.
In part, implicit in her decision is the accurate understanding that screening mammograms may not be efficient at identifying the most virulent breast cancers when they are potentially curable. Mammograms are best at identifying breast cancer tissue types where later diagnosis would only minimally affect prognosis.
Malignant melanomas are quite different from the above scenario; early diagnosis almost uniformly dictates long term cure. In the case of melanomas (and also colonoscopy diagnoses which also save lives) we can identify early signs in pigmented growths which allows us to remove them in a curative stage. Yearly full cutaneous exams with your dermatologist are a smart thing to do.