Writing a good headline is an art and a responsibility. Sometimes, it can become a sideshow.
“Overdiagnosis of Invasive Breast Cancer Due to Mammography Screening: Results From the Norwegian Screening Program,” published April 3 in Annals of Internal Medicine, has sparked a war of words. The analysis fueled headlines like “Mammograms to blame for breast cancer overdiagnosis” and “Mammograms can find early breast cancers that get unneeded treatment, study suggests.”
This type of media circus can reduce complex healthcare issues to a black and white scenario and potentially deter women from seeking essential screening exams.
A few days after the Annals analysis was released, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study that delved into another screening harm—the false-positive mammogram. After examining data from nearly 60,000 women in the Danish population-based screening program, researchers reported that women with a false-positive mammogram face a 67 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women without a false-positive result.
They wrote, “Based on the findings in this study, it may be beneficial to actively encourage women with false-positive tests to continue to attend regular screening.” This can be a tough sell when others are peddling the dangers of overdiagnosis.
Michael N. Linver, MD, director of mammography at X-Ray Associates of New Mexico in Albuquerque and a member of the Health Imaging editorial advisory board, pointed out, “Radiologists need to have a counterattack and list the reasons why these [stories] are untrue.” This is where the plot, and the indeed the practice of radiology, comes full circle to the need for informed, strategic leadership.
Like the previous examples, this month’s cover story of Health Imaging—“Sinking Reimbursement”—is a bit of an eye grabber. Like Linver, experts from the American College of Radiology and the Radiology Business Management Association stressed that radiologists need to take an active role in combatting the threats to the practice of imaging. Hiding in a reading room and shying away from a collaborative role in patient care are not sustainable leadership strategies. Instead, radiologists need to infuse their expertise across the enterprise and emphasize their role in patient decision-making.
It’s a challenging path. At Health Imaging, we continuously strive to help our readers navigate these complex waters by diving beneath the headlines to explore and analyze key issues in the practice of radiology.
As you read beyond these headlines in this month’s issue, please let us know how we can better meet your needs.