The theory of large numbers goes something like this – the larger the sample size the greater the probability that what you are seeing is real.
So it follows that when a supplemental data analysis from an additional 600,000 women results in new recommendations for breast cancer screening it has a very high probability of being correct. Higher than before.
Then why all the gnashing of teeth surrounding the new recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force against routine breast cancer screening for women 40-49 years old? The American Cancer Society has decided to ignore the new recommendations as has Livestrong. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure has posted a more balanced position.
The reason – cancer is big business. Awareness has increased, money is flowing, non-profits are growing…whoops, we don’t need this monkey wrench thrown into the mix.
But, this is the way it is supposed to work isn’t it? Recommendations should be periodically reviewed, supplemented with new data and modified as necessary. Ultimately, the physicians will be the ones who make the call. And they will do so based on the data.
One can’t ignore the theory of large numbers. Pure and simple.