So the screening program aims to identify women who would be candidates for much more drastic, and disfiguring, surgeries than the lumpectomy scar the photo depicts. Lumpectomies are used to remove a diagnosed, localized cancer, not to mitigate risk, often done by removing the majority of a woman’s breast tissue. A mastectomy patient is shown way at the bottom of the story’s online version, but that image didn’t make it into print.
Younger women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to suffer from more aggressive, harder-to-treat cancers—types that usually require a mastectomy and additional treatment. The woman in the image, then—and I—are statistical rarities, and her torso misrepresents what breast cancer will look like for most of the women discussed in the story, BRCA mutation or no.
This misrepresentation is irresponsible for a paper that carries clout in setting, and furthering debates here and around the world, especially with its recent rebranding of the International Herald Tribune to the International New York Times. Breast cancer—all cancers—are big, bad, ugly diseases and rarely resemble the buxom rack splashed beneath Wednesday’s masthead.