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The Limits of Detection


Mammography is touted as a screening tool that saves women’s lives. A recent paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine put that claim to the test, noting that other outcomes are possible — that a woman’s breast cancer might have been treatable no matter when it was found or that she was diagnosed with a cancer that was not going to cause symptoms. Through their estimation, the researchers found that most women did not have their life saved by the screen. “The presumption often is that anyone who has had cancer detected has survived because of the test, but that’s not true,” researcher Gilbert Welch tells Tara Parker-Pope at The New York Times.

“Of all the women who have a screening test who have breast cancer detected, and eventually survive the cancer, the vast majority would have survived anyway,” adds Colin Begg from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “It only saved the lives of a very small fraction of them.”

The Scan

Two J&J Doses

Johnson & Johnson says two doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provides increased protection against symptomatic COVID-19, CNN reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Response in Kids

The Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a lower-dose format appears to generate an immune response among children, according to the Washington Post.

Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

The Guardian writes that researchers are looking at gene editing chickens to help prevent future pandemics.

PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.