"My Brief Trip to Cancerland" by Jennifer Weiner. NYTimes Opinion Section, May 11, 2018.
Go ahead and read it...then come back for some commentary. (I'll wait.)
Jennifer really brings up a lot of salient points and gives perfect examples/explanations of some of the cognitive biases with which we all struggle. (Well, some of us struggle...I think many are oblivious to these biases.) Our brains are always messing with us...
1. Anticipated regret: this idea that we HAVE to DO ALL the THINGS, right NOW, so we don't kick ourselves later. In the breast cancer surgery world, this means choosing more surgery over less, or more chemotherapy over less, even when the science tells us "less" is very often just as good as "more." Sometimes, even in breast cancer care "less is more."
2. Anchoring effect: the first thing you hear, becomes the only thing you hear and affects all of your subsequent decisions. There is certainly a role for the services I offer and the operations and therapies we perform...but its not for everyone, all of the time, without exception, as a hard and fast rule. Not all cancers are created equally, nor need to be treated in the exact same fashion.
What to do, though? The best way to fight these cognitive biases is to know them and seek them out and tell them to back down. Its not easy, but once you start recognizing them, its amazing how your cognitive prowess improves. And who doesn't appreciate some good, clean, bias-free cognition?! (For more on this, check out this fascinating Cognitive Bias Codex.)
The other important points that Jennifer writes about have to do with her experience as a patient and the changing definition of in-situ cancers...and I'll give you a ton more on this in an upcoming post.