The anguish of pink advocates in the face of declining participation in screening

October 6, 2020

Cécile Bour, MD


The anxiety-provoking communication of Pink October tries to surf on the wave of concern that the epidemic has caused among oncologists, and now tries to emphasize screening. The world of pink is worried, women who have long been manipulated[1], shamelessly incited[2] all of a sudden seem to be less enthusiastic about running and even less about running for screening.

"We need to encourage everyone to continue with screening campaigns", assures Mr. Pr. Eric Solary, president of the scientific council of the ARC foundation for cancer research. "Models indicate that the increase in breast cancer mortality will be between 1 and 5% in the next ten years."

"Faced with a decline in breast cancer screening, INCa is launching a campaign on the occasion of Pink October," proclaims the Quotidien du Médecin.

What's going on? Is the pink house burning?


Let's analyze calmly the ever feverish messages of our institutes and health authorities, anxious, tormented, frightened and in a perpetual trance that women may turn away from their precious pink toy.

1. Assuming that there is indeed an excess of cancer deaths linked to COVID, in the years to come, it is obvious that the cause will not only be the lesser adherence to routine breast cancer screening but above all a delay in therapeutic management (by cancelling non-urgent interventions, by fear of patients being contaminated by going to the hospital or in doctors' waiting rooms), as Mr Solary admits in the article.

2. The main argument in opposition to the view of Mr. Solary is that the same model announces an increase of 2 to 5% in cancer mortality, this announced increase will concern all cancers, not only breast cancer [3].

This is the Grouvid study:

"Delays in diagnosis and treatment of cancers, linked to the first wave of coronavirus, could result in an excess of cancer mortality of 2 to 5%, five years after the start of management, according to a French study made public on Friday, September 18. These are the delays and postponements of patients' visits that have the most consequences, shows the research presented by statistician Aurélie Bardet of the Gustave-Roussy Institute in Villejuif (Val-de-Marne)."

"These delays could result in a "minimum 2% increase in cancer deaths" five years after diagnosis. This excess mortality would mainly affect liver, sarcoma and head and neck cancers. This research is based on a mathematical model that allowed an assessment of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the organization of cancer care and the consequences on prognosis, taking into account the lags related to lockdown." (Grouvid study)

Mr. Solary maintains that "The models indicate". But here we are, as far as screening and the Pink October campaign are concerned, we are mostly in communication and very little in science.

Which models, with which data in input?

"The models indicate", it ends up sounding like Kaa's song from the Jungle Book: " trust me, believe me...".

And that is difficult, because after all the misinformation of women we become doubtful to be able to trust blindly anyone...





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Cancer Rose is a French non-profit organization of health care professionals. Cancer Rose performs its activity without advertising, conflict of interest, subsidies. Thank you to support our activity on HelloAsso.