Wednesday, 19 February 2014

SPHPM’s Professor Robin Bell comments on Canadian mammography study

SPHPM’s Professor Robin Bell believes that recent Canadian study findings on the efficacy of annual mammography versus physical examination in reducing mortality from breast cancer is important in generating debate about the usefulness of mammography screening.
The study comprised 89,835 women participants between 40-59, randomly assigned to either mammography (five annual mammography screens) or control (no mammography), at 15 different screening centres throughout Canada. 666 invasive breast cancers were diagnosed in the mammography arm and 524 in the control. Of these, 180 women in the mammography arm and 171 in the control arm died of breast cancer during the 25 year follow-up period. During the entire study period, 3250 women in the mammography arm and 3133 in the control arm had a breast cancer diagnosis and 500 and 505 women respectively, died of breast cancer.

At the end of the screening period there was an excess of 142 breast cancer cases in the mammography arm compared to the control arm. The study authors believe this means that 22% of the screening detected invasive breast cancers were over-diagnosed.

The study findings, which have appeared in the British Medical has attracted criticism from some health professionals, who feel that the technology used in the study was outdated. However, Professor Bell, who is currently responsible for a five-year study of more than 1600 women with a first diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, spoke with The Medical Observer, commenting that it’s time Australia reviewed the routine invitation for screening for women aged 50–74 years of age.

“There are two sides of the equation with screening, demonstrating a benefit and being mindful of any harm that might be occurring. This study is saying that it cannot demonstrate a benefit… and for women in the over-diagnosis category, the treatment represents harm.”

“If women receive an invitation to screening they feel that a judgement has been made that it is in their interests to be screened. I think they should be given more information about the risks and benefits of screening, such as over-diagnosis,” Professor Bell said.

1 comment:

  1. I recently read an article that said women should get mammograms anymore. That doesn't make sense to me. It seems to me the most effective way to tell whether or not you have breast cancer. Breast cancer is a deadly disease. I wouldn't want to take any chances with it. http://www.evdi.com/procedures/breast-imaging

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