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New DCIS study, news release lead to (very) mixed messages: 'And we wonder why patients get confused'

It’s an all-too-common theme in the theater of health news: scientists publish a nuanced but potentially field-rattling medical study, journalists and press officers zero in on too-sharp angles that set aside crucial information and context, and readers and patients get lost in the shuffle.

That’s exactly what happened last week, when Dr. Steven A. Narod, who studies breast cancer at Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, and his colleagues dropped a doozy of a study in JAMA Oncology.

The work focused on ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS. It’s an abnormal collection of cells inside the milk-producing ductwork of a breast, and it constitutes 20% of breast cancer diagnoses by mammogram. About 60,000 American women are diagnosed with DCIS each year, according to the American Cancer Society, and it’s often referred to as “stage 0 breast cancer.”

Health News Review

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