Shooting fish in a barrel: curing cancers that are clinically indolent
The absolute number of people dying from cancer in UK and Europe remained stubbornly stable over 40 years in spite of various medical interventions.(1).
It is a very remarkable coincidence that most of the 'extra' cancers diagnosed over the last 4 decades were indeed highly curable while the absolute number of cancer deaths has remained persistently stable across many well, developed countries over many decades. (1).
Over-diagnosis of 'indolent cancers' readily explains the paradox of increasing cancer incidence, better cancer survival rates but persistently stable , absolute, cancer deaths. (1). (2).
The routine and widespread use of CT, MRI and ultrasound scans has been responsible for this epidemic of over-diagnosis. Clinicians are curing cancers that do not need to be cured.
1. Sundar S. Rapid response. Re:Median survival of cancer patients has risen from one to 10 years over past 40 years. http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g3011/rr/696834
2. Welch HG, Black WC. Overdiagnosis in cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2010;102:605–13. doi:10.1093/jnci/djq099
Competing interests: No competing interests