Monday, March 29, 2010

Ineffective screening for breast cancer?

A new study published in the British Medical Journal has raised new questions about the effectiveness of large scale breast screening programmes.

The report in Times Live can be found here. The abstract of original paper in the BMJ here.

The Danish study reports that they were "unable to find an effect of the Danish screening programme on breast cancer mortality. The reductions in breast cancer mortality (they) observed in screening regions were similar or less than those in non-screened areas and in age groups too young to benefit from screening, and are more likely explained by changes in risk factors and improved treatment than by screening mammography."

Late last year the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) revised the recommendations for screening mammograms in women between 40-50 years of age.

Methinks it's about time our breast oncologists did some serious and honest review of the situation, though I seriously doubt they will say anything other than to defend the need to do lots more screening.

1 comment:

auntielucia said...

Hi Giga! I share yr doubts. The screening is done by technicians. The reading is done by radiologists and I can tell u this true but unnerving story.

My mother had a mammogram n whole body MRI in 2008 to confirm the stage of her lump and spread (if any) be4 operation. Do you know what the reading was? Stage 2. Also in the reading was the statement that her womb etc was intact. Fact is mother had a hyster etc more than 25 yrs ago!

After we kicked up a fuss abt the reading, it was amended to say there was no womb etc After the op, she was diagnosed as between stage 1 n 2, because the lump was a lot smaller than shown in the mammo...

Frankly, am not sure whether mass screenings does anything more than cause needless alarm; speed up wot wld otherwise have been dormant conditions and of cos, reward the manufacturers n owners of the machines handsomely besides creating whole clusters of new industries n job opportnities as a result of the screening!