Saturday, December 9, 2017

Screening has little affect on breast cancer deaths

CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 9, 2017 – A French study of the breast screening program in the Netherlands found that screening for breast cancer every two years produced a 5 percent reduction in cancer deaths compared to a 28 percent reduction in death from improved treatments.

The finding challenges a the current guidelines in the U.S. and other countries that recommend mammography exams every two years for women 50-75. The study was published in the Dec. 5, 2017 British Medical Journal.

The study looked at breast cancer mortality rates for the Netherlands for 1987 to 2013 from the World Health Organization mortality database. The Netherlands has been recommending semi-annual mammograms for women 50-70 since 1989 and for women over 70 since 2006.

They analyzed at what stage women were diagnosed with breast cancer from 1989 to 2012. They then estimated the number of deaths from breast cancer that were avoided because of screening and breast cancer over diagnosis, meaning the number of breast cancers that would have never been detected during a woman’s lifetime without screening.

They found that after 24 years of screening, early detection of cancer was linked to a 0-5 percent reduction in breast cancer deaths in women 50 an over. During the same period improvements in treatment were associated with a 28 percent reduction in breast cancer deaths.

In addition they concluded that over diagnosis is continuously increasing with the invitation of older women to screening and newer imaging technology able to detect ever smaller breast tumors.

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