How big a lump will it find?

By Grant Jacobs 24/04/2013

Here’s a clever way of comparing lump sizes different approaches to checking for breast cancer typically find, from Cath’s excellent VWXYNot blog:*


Isn’t it easier to personally relate to the sizes through a physical object you can touch and feel than a graphic? Either way, it’s a clever idea and a smart piece of communication.

More can be found on the thing-a-ma-boob website.

I’d encourage readers to hang out over her way too. How many other blogs have a hockey pool and a Bragging Rights section? (If nothing else, you can check out the pencil in her second photo.)


* Used with permission – thanks, Cath!

Other articles on Code for life:

Guest post: Ruth and her cancer

Myriad Genetics patent of BRCA (breast cancer) genes denied … (this was appealed; the appeal is currently under review)

Deleting a gene can turn an ovary into a testis in adult mammals

Rubella, not a benign disease if experienced during early pregnancy

The inheritance of face recognition (should you blame your parents if you can’t recognise faces?)

Iridologist’s treatment of cancer criticised by Health and Disability Commissioner

0 Responses to “How big a lump will it find?”

  • Thanks Grant!

    Maybe “come for the hockey, stay for the bragging rights” should be my new blog motto? I was going to say “come for the thingamaboogs, stay for the bragging rights” but that might attract the wrong sort of crowd.

  • Yeah – you’d want those hanging out to be doing it for the right reasons!

    One year I’ll get my act together and join the hockey pool.

  • I had free two-yearly breast scans from whenever they were introduced into NZ at whatever age I was then. Somewhere along the line the age range for free scans was increased. They are now available from ages 45 to 69. Last year, when I was 69, I received a reminder for my last free scan. I read the enclosed pamphlet with interest. The table showing the number of deaths from breast cancer with and without screening at different ages made me wonder whether the exercise was cost effective. Nonetheless I dutifully made my appointment. The evening before my scan, I read this Guardian article online:
    When I turned up for my appointment, I advised the receptionist that before I went any further I wanted to be reassured that I wouldn’t be wasting my time and the taxpayers money by having a scan. The receptionist called the consultant. I braced myself for an earnest lecture on the importance of breast screening. The consultant duly arrived and opened the conversation with: “Well – it’s a grey area.” Her view was that there is a case to be made for screening between the ages of 50 and 65. She was out of the country when the age range was extended. In her view, there is no good data to support routine breast screening between ages 45 and 50, and between ages 65 and 70. “Great! i said, “I’m outta here!” For the benefit of males who are unaware of what is involved in breast screening, imagine having a very tender part of your anatomy pressed hard, and held firmly for an excruciatingly long time, between two horizontal metal plates. Then imagine the process being repeated between two vertical metal plates – and be thankful that no one has suggested screening for testicular cancer.

  • The science behind the screening is well outside my expertise – I’d have to leave it for others to comment on. My interest was in the device as an original approach to communication. I imagine to some extent testing is a balancing of personal choice of risk v. what the tests offer.

  • It’s not just a matter of personal choice, it’s a question of whether scarce health resources should be spent on a procedure for which the scientific support is weak. The problem with detecting tiny lumps is that the cost – emotional, physical and financial – of running a screening programme, and of putting women through cancer scares and the surgery/chemo/radiotherapy that may follow, is that a worrying number of cases turn out to be the result of misdiagnosis and treatment a healthy breast. For older women the argument against screening is even stronger because small lumps that are proven to be cancerous generally grow so slowly that the woman is far more likely to die of something other than breast cancer first.

    • Sorry I’ve taken so long to reply. I wasn’t meaning to imply it was just a matter of personal choice. In fact, I wrote “to some extent ” to indicate that personal choice was part but not all of it.

      Saw your name in this article regards partial sight loss. It reminded me of as a kid joining a hard-of-hearing group for teenagers for a few weeks. (I lost interest, kids and their short span of interest rather than anything else!) While the deaf organisations offer some support for financial aspects (e.g. hearings aids) there was little social support. You were not deaf enough for the “fully” deaf community, but not being able to hear well enough to easily join the hearing crowd’s parties, etc. either — sort of stuck between two worlds and not “belonging” to either.