Recently, Radiology published a study of 1214 subjects at high risk for breast cancer who refused MRI screening. MRI screening is a more sensitive modality than mammography and ultrasound for finding breast cancer. With 57.9 percent agreeing to MRI screening and 42.1 percent refusing, the study makes it clear that regardless of the benefit of a procedure, it cannot be useful if a significant number of potential users refuse to use it.
Is there a way to make a procedure, like MRI screening, less intimidating, more comfortable? Just like the treatment side of cancer, which has improved light years since even fifteen years ago, the detection side still has issues of patient acceptability or tolerance. If the population who could benefit from it refuses it on the basis of tolerance, it seems that we have a huge gap in the potential of a given procedure.
Even with so many challenges to find new treatments and methods of detection, this study reminds us that whatever options exist must be not just available but tolerable, comfortable or appealing enough that patients will partake of them. Treatment or detection potential has limited value if only half of the affected population uses it. People always talk about THE cure; this is a reminder that there is no THE cure. There is only an endless number of possible solutions that can be applied in so many possible ways that must also be tolerable. Putting it together to effect treatment for incurable cancer seems like a huge puzzle with pieces that are interchangeable. I am forever bewildered by the enormity of this disease . . .
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