Early cancer detection controversy

(WWLP) – February 4 is World Cancer Day. It’s a day dedicated to raising awareness about cancer and treatment. 22News found out there is now a controversy over some early detection methods.

“We are seeing a slow decrease in early detection across the country,” said Dr. Wilson Mertens of Baystate Medical Regional Cancer Program.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer at local hospitals – most detected in their early stages.

There’s still controversy over whether women under 50 years old should subject themselves to early detection procedures like mammograms.

“People that I know that have had early detection with breast cancer, I think it makes a big difference in their lives,” said Susan Donnelly of Easthampton.

Dr. Wilson Mertens told 22News the financial and emotional cost as well as the pain of preventive surgeries are more harmful than good for healthy women under 40 years old. That’s the same for prostate cancer.

“We picked up a large number of prostate cancers with PSA or Prostate Specific Antigen blood testing. That’s now frowned upon by a variety of large organizations,” said Dr. Wilson Mertens of Baystate Regional Cancer Program.

From a population stance, there’s no improvement in prostate cancer death rates due to this screening. The same goes for patients with a low risk of lung cancer. Despite the controversy most people told 22News they would risk going under the knife and dealing with anxiety to make sure they found out they had cancer early on.

“You hear that. I think they perhaps feel obligated to say that but I would always follow it with yes, I want the testing,” Bill Gibb of Florence told 22News.

“My grandmother and my mom both have had signs of cancer and stuff like that in the family, so I’ve always been for it because it runs in my family. I want to know if I have it,” said Meagan Hadley of Ludlow.