Just one month after Andrew von Eschenbach was sworn in as National Cancer Institute director, he was called to a US Senate hearing as the government's lead witness that day. The topic was one that he had grappled with before during his tenure at the American Cancer Society—and one that his predecessor and other physicians had not endured well: the pitched debate over the effectiveness of mammography screening for women in their 40s. The hearing was triggered by a systematic review1 that concluded that mammography screening offered no benefit and could confer harm in the form of excess tumorectomies and excess mastectomies. Government officials in the United States were up in arms over the message.

Von Eschenbach put forward a certain, affirmative stance at the hearing. He quelled any concerns of politicians who in unison agreed that airing any uncertainties surrounding mammography's benefits would confuse women and be bad...

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