Archive for October, 2011


A Tale of Two Cancer Stories

   Posted by: Robert    in News

Making its way around the news reports for the past couple days has been news from the US Preventative Services Task Force that calls for an end to annual screenings for men at risk for prostate cancer.  If this recommendation seems eerily similar to another recommendation published in the wake of Obamacare, it should.  This is the same group that said breast screenings for 40-something year old women should go the way of the dinosaur.  Like pretty much everyone else who wrote about the breast cancer story, or who is writing about the prostate cancer story now, I’m woefully unqualified to offer any intelligent comment on the merits of the recommendation.  Watching the responses to each, though, is interesting.

When the breast cancer recommendation came down, it set off something of a media firestorm almost overnight.  The new recommendation made top headlines, with denouncements coming from all across the political spectrum.  The topic was an instant women’s health issue, with story after story of women whose lives were saved because they were examined and their cancer was caught early.  The reporting circled for days before the chaos finally subsided.

It’s very different, now, with the prostate cancer recommendation.  I first saw the story slip into the churn of the news stream on Friday where, perhaps in part thanks to the weekend news cycle, it seems to be sitting, more or less dead.  The reporting, far from the vitriolic response to the breast cancer recommendation, has been very matter-of-fact and really quite boring.

I can’t help but wonder if there’s some lesson to be drawn from the difference in reporting on these two topics.  Is it just that the flood-the-world-with-pink strategy of the breast cancer awareness crowd has us on heightened alert to any challenge to the testing orthodoxy?  Is there, perhaps, a more anti-male message to be taken from this?  Or have we simply gotten used to the idea that, now that the government is taking over healthcare, part of their job is going to be telling us that we shouldn’t actually get to receive any?