Faust: Pap smears: Negative side effects outweigh potential benefits
September 22, 2012
Re. “War on women,” by Jackie Berry, letters Sept. 16
Jackie Berry’s letter is a further example of scientific illiteracy. The reason for the “No mammograms before 50” suggestion is because several studies have shown that there is no positive influence on patient outcome from mammograms before 50.
It turns out that it is an completely unnecessary test. This is even more true for annual pap smears. The negative side effects of annual pap smears far outweigh the potential benefits.
This is also the same for PSA tests for prostate cancer. PSA tests actually decreased overall patient health, because detection of risk factors often resulted in doctors prescribing overly aggressive treatments that often did more harm than good.
While it might fly in the face of common sense that these tests do not benefit patient outcome, the studies are there for anyone to read or disagree with.
Unfortunately we are living in an age were people think that getting every possibly test, scan, smear, or x-ray is a positive thing, but the reality is quite different. The sad truth is that Ms. Berry’s statements are just an example of how the American education system has failed when it comes to imparting a basic understanding of how science works.