Overdiagnosis, or the identification of cancers that would not have become evident in the patient’s lifetime, represents one of the most significant harms of screening. Yet until recently overdiagnosis has gone almost entirely unmentioned in public messages about mammography.
Why the silence? Basically, the proponents of screening have been afraid of providing “mixed messages” that might confuse the public. Sadly, this fear has prevented the kind of full and open discussion that is essential to patient/consumer education.