Discussion Forum (Unnecessary Pap Smears: Part Two)

This post has been created to provide an additional forum for discussion.

Thank you Alex for suggesting the addition of an open forum devoted to discussion on this blog. (click on title or graphic to go to comments)

About forwomenseyesonly

Hi. My name is Sue and I am interested in promoting holistic and respectful health care.
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2,213 Responses to Discussion Forum (Unnecessary Pap Smears: Part Two)

  1. Victoria says:

    In general I’m really getting sick of the fear-mongering about cancer, especially among young people (under 40s, but especially people in their 20s). This UK charity is aimed at young women (the least likely age group to get breast cancer): http://coppafeel.org/ . We need to be reminded regularly apparently. All the rhetoric that comes from these charities and the general public who agree with them, is along the lines of “it’s so important”. This gives the impression it’s a significant threat (if it wasn’t a significant threat, it wouldn’t be important), which is false. I’ve seen more than one person saying 3 in 100 men will get breast cancer. Utter nonsense. American Cancer Society says lifetime risk is 1 in 1000, and NHS says 1 in 100,000 men are diagnosed each year.

    (Speaking of the UK NHS) All of these people are now going to run to their over-stretched doctors, taking up appointment time, increasing waiting times for everyone who needs an appointment. The consensus is that you should insist your doctor refers you for a scan or biopsy. More pressure on those departments, and delays for everyone (including the people who really have cancer!). More samples to look at, so less time to study them properly. Massive over-treatment because people insist on every lump getting removed, or agree to mastectomies when they’re not entirely called for.

    Oh, and the name Coppafeel is a take on a phrase used by teenage boys/men (imagine this being said in a lairy tone, over drinks): “Yeah, I copped a feel last night! Wa-hey!” It’s a crass turn of phrase, and using it to refer to a medical check (even a self-exam) implies women should be okay with this attitude applying to their body.

    • Victoria says:

      I’m not against people being aware of their health and what’s normal and what’s not, but it becomes a problem when you add in this terrible scare-mongering. I think it’s possible to have a population able to spot unusual symptoms who aren’t freaking out over every little thing, if it wasn’t for this constant media attention on cancer (which is particularly focused on people in their 20s and 30s who have cancer). There must be at least 1 cancer story per day across the major UK news networks and newspapers.

    • adawells says:

      Couldn’t agree more with you about this vile cancer charity, which has had a lot of support from The Sun newspaper. Yes, the term coppafeel is a lads expression for a good tit groping and I find this whole charity despicable. Like Jo’s Trust they market themselves for the 18-30’s, and to cover up the fact that cancer statistics in this age range are so small, they include anyone else who’s had a “worry” about cancer into this cohort, so they have whole teams of hanger’s-on jumping onto the charity bandwagon, claiming to be survivors and champions to the cause, when they haven’t had cancer at all and their medical knowledge is zero. Coppafeel use giant inflatable breasts to draw attention to themselves, and get any photo opportunity they can. Quite how this makes mastectomised young women feel better beggars belief.
      To clean their act up they are now running a campaign to get into schools and teach teenage girls about breast examination and awareness. You can imagine the worry this would cause young girls, whose breast are just starting to grow. I saw on twitter they are promoting the “fact” that 1 in 3 people are going to get any type of cancer. While that may be true for those over 85 years old, they are omitting to tell young people that this figure drastically falls to very low risks the younger you are. I was reading recently, that odds of breast cancer in women under 40 was about 1 in 2000, falling to about 1 in 50 in middle age and only 1 in 25 by age 70. If these charities are only concerned with breast cancer they should give clear breast cancer statistics and not use all case cancer stats for those approaching death as their actual figures.

  2. linda says:

    Hi Victoria & Ada. I read an interesring piece written by a coronor who when opening up his clients finds that all have cancer somewhere or other. However they have mostly died of something else. He thinks that it is a natural part of being human some however drop unlucky and it develops further.
    All these awful charities feeding off our fears is terrible. Funny, but i’ve always had an inate feeling they were bad and have never given them anything. If people go looking for sometjing hard enough they will find it. My new philosophy is to just live. If i feel ill treat myself – it can be done. If i get cancer i am goinb to live with it and not treat it. You may not agree with me but cancer treatment killed my friend.

    If any of these descicable people show up in my classroom i will throw them out. I am not afraid to throw people out i have done it loads of times. Loads of teachers will not entertain them scaring the girls so don’t worry about this happening

    • Victoria says:

      I came across that autopsy stat just this morning funnily enough. It was 7% who had an undiagnosed cancer at the time of death, and it wasn’t the cancer that killed them.

      Speaking of declining cancer treatment, you’ve reminded me of the other side of public cancer awareness that I find distasteful: referring to it as something you pluckily “fight”. While that approach helps some, it doesn’t apply to everyone. I’d hate to think of people who decide to have no treatment, or stop at some point, being seen as weak or giving up. I hate to think of friends and family badgering them, believing it’s the right thing to do. I did a brief bit of Googling this morning about criticism of cancer awareness campaigns, and fortunately there are plenty of people who speak out against the commercialisation, sexualisation, and sanitised image of cancer. It almost comes across like a popular club ::shudder:: You see patients smiling, looking confident and strong, hair and make-up done for the photoshoot, but that’s not the reality of day-to-day life during treatment (or the worry that can stay with you afterwards).

      • Alex says:

        Like having cancer makes you part of the “in” crowd? That IS pretty creepy. I figure a gamma personality is helpful against that, but really just having sense & being able to make deductions is all you’d need. I also figure that someone gets more attention as a person with a disease- like cancer.

        Sometimes people seem to fake an illness to take away attention from their children, too. THAT type of disorder doesn’t seem to be as publicized for some reason. It’s mostly the kinds of ailments only women can get, cancer in general, and every now & then AIDS or heart attacks/

  3. Alex says:

    Something spooky that I heard about is how it’s now possible for 11-year-old girls to get an IUD implanted AT SCHOOL. Try looking that up, as I don’t remember exactly where in America this is- but if they have these means on hand, doesn’t that mean they could impose their use on kids? It might not be what’s SUPPOSED to happen- but then they’re not supposed to molest children in the conventional way, either.

    Speaking of which, apparently a lot of cops have been getting off without a day in jail for things like that. They outright rape a 5-year-old & they’re fine, but if someone so much as punches one of them in the face- that person might actually get locked-up. I know, I know- they don’t ALL do that, just the ones that do. Them getting turned loose certainly seems like a collaborative effort, though.

    • Hexanchus (male - U.S.) says:

      Seattle Public schools – 4 middle schools and 9 high schools will prescribe contraception, including IUD’s to girls as young as 11 (6th grade). without parental knowledge or consent.

      It’s apparently allowed under Washington law….


  4. adawells says:

    Sense about Science have just released the 2nd edition of Making sense of screening, which is a good step in the right direction, aiming to quell all those stupid tabloid stories and scares. There are some excellent comments and some good posters here.
    The actual document can be downloaded here:

  5. Victoria says:

    Found a couple of good articles about breast cancer awareness yesterday:

    http://www.thelingerieaddict.com/2013/11/lingerie-brands-sewing-breast-cancer-awareness-bras.html – another Elizabeth on there doing her bit to educate people :)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/our-feel-good-war-on-breast-cancer.html?_r=1 – lots of factual info included. Including: “there was a 188 percent jump between 1998 and 2005 among women given new diagnoses of D.C.I.S. in one breast — a risk factor for cancer — who opted to have both breasts removed just in case.” The fear is such a driving factor here and where are we getting that fear from? The media, charities, and other women who push the message. The writer is spot on here: “The fear of cancer is legitimate: how we manage that fear, I realized — our responses to it, our emotions around it — can be manipulated, packaged, marketed and sold, sometimes by the very forces that claim to support us. That can color everything from our perceptions of screening to our understanding of personal risk to our choices in treatment.”

    I’m also learning that young women are more likely to have aggressive breast cancer and early detection will do little to help them.

    “a 12-year randomized study involving more than 266,000 Chinese women, published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found no difference in the number of cancers discovered, the stage of disease or mortality rates between women who were given intensive instruction in monthly self-exams and women who were not, though the former group was subject to more biopsies.”

    • adawells says:

      Thank you so much for digging out these articles to share. I had not seen the “Coppafeel-Coppafail” article before. Such a shame she got a hammering from the “if I hadn’t had that screening test I’d be dead by now” brigade, but as you say she stuck by her guns and “Catherine” did a good job supporting her.

      This pink ribbon nonsense makes me sick. I have frequently heard that late diagnosis is a real problem in the UK as there is poor access to MRI scanners. When I got diagnosed with endometrial cancer last year, there was a hold up in waiting my turn for the MRI scanner, so much so, that my appointment to discuss the results had come around before I had had a chance to go in it. Consultant then referred me to a local swanky private hospital to use theirs. Day before my turn their scanner had broken down, so another 2 week wait before I got done. These charities should put their money into buying more scanners not running around with giant plastic breasts and pink knickers to get into the newspapers. I hope they will be exposed for the rackets they are.

  6. Victoria says:

    The message being put out about checking/screening is far too simple as well. The message is this:

    “Do self-exams and go for screening. Prevent cancer or catch it early.”

    People believe this and have NO IDEA of the effectiveness of self-exams (or exams by doctor), their risk of cancer at their age, their risk of over-treatment and what exactly over-treatment can mean (unnecessary mastectomies and the belief you had cancer when you didn’t).

    The happy-clappy media image glosses over all of that and presents cancer detection and treatment as a very clean, unpleasant-but-not-terrifying experience that you will “survive” as long as you’re a good girl and do what you’re told.

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