Not all research is equal

As I sat at home this weekend, knowing the hearing at the House of Commons starting today, regarding the newly proposed Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines. Since I can’t testify, I felt the need to tangibly highlight to others why I feel these guidelines fail Canadian women.

So, I did what any other bored de novo stage 4 breast cancer patient would do. I decided to read through and compare the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care’s 2024 Proposed Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines references to the US Task Force on Preventative Services’ 2024 Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines bibliography.

Why? Because the US felt there was enough new evidence to change their breast cancer screening guidelines to start at 40 instead of 50. And ten of the thirteen Canadian jurisdictions also changed their guidelines to start screening at 40, with the exception of Alberta, which dropped it to 45.

What did the US and the of our thirteen Canadian jurisdictions know that the Canadian Task Force didn’t?

Natalie Kwadrans – June 8, 2024

I figured the answers would lie in the research they used to inform their recommendations. I was right. It was disheartening and downright maddening.

I created a spreadsheet to compare the sources each Task Force used and did a high-level analysis of the research simply by reviewing the titles. Therefore, it’s not a perfect analysis. I was trying to see what new research was being used by the Canadian Task Force. I was extremely disappointed and let down by the content, as what the Canadian Task Force used wasn’t reflective what is available. And that lack of research comes at the expense of Canadian women’s lives.

Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health’s Twitter post asking followers to send in new research to update the Canadian Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines – July 31, 2023

Based on this Twitter post from July 31, 2023, The Canadian Task Force preferred to ask “the masses” do the legwork for them. I’m not sure why the Federal Government paid to expedite the guidelines. 41% of their sources included data from before the year 2000!

Here is a quick side-by-side comparison between the two Task Forces’ bibliography. It is clear that not all research is equal.

After doing this analysis, three things stand out to me

Do you want to see the two bibliographies for yourself? Here is a link to my spreadsheet, as well as a short video that explains my document.

The Canadian Task Force’s anti-screening bias

That’s dangerous for Canadians!

Natalie Kwadrans, X, May 8, 2024

For those of you following my blog, you know that I have been a vocal and passionate advocate for cancer screening and cancer research. So when I read a blog post on OncoDaily Medical Journal‘s website where I was labelled a “cancer activist”, I was beaming with pride!

On the theme of advocacy, I just released my second episode of my Getting it Off my Chest series. This the first of five episodes in which I explain my concerns as they relate brief they posted on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Women’s Health.

Task Force members, who volunteer their time and expertise, are vetted to ensure neutrality in assessing evidence and developing recommendations

Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care 1

This episode is dedicated to debunking that claim by concretely showing the Chair of the CTFPHC, Dr. Guylène Thériault, has a clear and known anti-screening bias. This means she is not a neutral party; her mind is already made up. She should not be on this Task Force, let alone be chairing it.

  1. Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care. (2024, February 14). House of Commons Standing Committee on Health  Study on Women’s Health . HESA – Home – House of Commons of Canada. ↩︎

US takes the lead in breast cancer screening

Over the past few years, I’ve been vocal in advocating to lower the age for breast cancer screening guidelines. We’ve seen some changes in Canada, but provincial guidelines are inconsistent.

CBC interviewed me this morning to get my reaction to the news that the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is recommending all women over the age of 40 get mammograms every 2 years.

Read my reaction in the CBC News article “Canada should follow U.S. call to screen for breast cancer at 40, doctors and patients say.” News-24 translated the article in French.

CBC The National was also at my home this morning to get my thoughts in video. You can watch the clip below.

Breast cancer screenings should start at 40, medical task force says

Are you supportive of the advocacy I’m doing to reduce the breast cancer screening age? If so, feel free to buy me a coffee or contribute towards some of my uninsured medical expenses.