- This study provides preliminary data on the controversial belief that if not treated, breast cancers can disappear on their own.
- In this study, all untreated screening-detected cancers persisted.
- The researchers do not know why 479 patients in this study chose not to treat their disease.
Strength of Science
- This study was a survey which often have many limitations. Some questions relied on a radiologist's memory which can lead to incorrect responses. Because the survey was anonymous, it is not known who responded to the survey, or where they practiced and importantly, the authors do not know why breast cancer patients may have not been treated for their disease. Because of the many limitations in the study design, some of the conclusions need to be further studied and confirmed by more robust protocols.
- Some of the conclusions the authors make cannot be made given the available data. For example, the authors state that “Our results show that all untreated, screen-detected cancers persist” and imply that this is always the case. It is difficult to conclude this based solely on the results of this survey. This study was a survey based on analysis of 6,865,324 mammograms over a 2-week period of time. Without reviewing individual patient’s records for the 479 untreated cases, one cannot assume that none of these patients received additional interventions.
- Individual patient records were not reviewed. Thus, there is no way to determine if patients received any additional intervention which limits the ability to draw meaningful conclusions from this type of study.
- There is no data on patient characteristics or their outcomes.