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Contest Entries

What's Wrong with Cancer Tests?

Entrants: Shannon Brownlee

Affiliation: Reader's Digest

General Interest Magazines above 1 million circ.

Year: 2009

Place: Third Place

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

The recent controversy over the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's guidelines for the use of mammography for women in their forties underscores the difficulty patients and physicians have with understanding – and accepting – the limitations of cancer screening. Six months before the USPSTF's recommendations were published, this story in Reader's Digest walked readers through the tradeoffs involved in mammography and a number of other cancer screening tests.

Judges' comments: Months before a government panel released new mammography guidelines, Shannon Brownlee and Reader's Digest were in the forefront of this issue, educating readers about a dark side of several popular cancer screening tests. "What's Wrong with Cancer Tests" draws on a wealth of creditable sources to effectively make the case that because of risky complications and false positives some cancer screening tests can do more harm than good, while others needlessly worry patients about cancers unlikely to be life threatening.

Read "What's Wrong with Cancer Tests."

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