Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breast Cancer: To Screen Or Not To Screen?

Date:
April 4, 2009
Source:
BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
Summary:
Women are often told that mammography saves lives. But rarely is the question asked, "how often?" Researchers set out to examine how often this life-saving event occurs.

Women are often told that mammography saves lives. But rarely is the question asked, 'how often?' Researchers set out to examine how often this life-saving event occurs.

Related Articles


Unrealistic expectations may influence a woman's decision whether or not to participate in screening mammography. Over 90% of women think that 'early detection saves lives'. John D Keen and James E Keen, of the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County and the University of Nebraska, respectively, aimed to promote informed decision-making by calculating the age-dependent absolute benefit of screening in three traditional ways: the absolute risk reduction from repeated screening, the number of women needed to screen repeatedly to save one life, and the survival percentages with and without mammography. They also estimated the average benefit of a single mammogram. Their novel concept of life-saving proportion is also relevant to economic analyses of screening.

They found that the life-saving benefit of mammography gradually increases with age along with the screen-free absolute death risk, which is about 1% over 15 years starting at age 55. The corresponding risk of developing breast cancer is about 6%. Repeated screening starting at age 50 saves about 1.8 lives over 15 years for every 1000 women screened. The average benefit of a single screening mammogram is 0.034%; in other words, 2970 women must be screened once to save one life. Alternatively, twenty-three cancers must be detected. Assuming a base case 20% relative risk reduction, the survival percentage in younger women at age 40 is 99.52% without and 99.62% with screening, meaning that there is a 0.1% increased chance of survival with screening than without it.

According to the authors, "We have assumed that a 'life saved' means screening helps cure one woman with breast cancer who would otherwise have died from the disease without screening ... However, all women with breast cancer may theoretically benefit from screening mammography through slowing the disease and therefore slightly prolonging their lives".

"For a woman in the screening subset of mammography-detectable cancers, there is a less than 5% chance that a mammogram will save her life. By comparing mammography's life-saving absolute benefit with its expected harms, a well-informed woman along with her physician can make a reasonable decision to screen or not to screen for breast cancer."

As this research article is highly controversial, BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making has provided two commentaries from experts in the field. Dr Stephen Duffy of Cancer Research UK argues that direct results from empirical data might be more trustworthy than modelled estimates derived by combining data from disparate sources. On the other hand, Dr Michael Retsky from the Harvard Medical School praises this study, noting that it is a positive step in the right direction considering that too often women aged 40-49 are asked to sign informed consent for mammography without being properly informed of the potential risks.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John D Keen and James E Keen. What is the point: will screening mammography save my life? BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, (in press)

Cite This Page:

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. "Breast Cancer: To Screen Or Not To Screen?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401200439.htm>.
BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. (2009, April 4). Breast Cancer: To Screen Or Not To Screen?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401200439.htm
BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. "Breast Cancer: To Screen Or Not To Screen?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401200439.htm (accessed November 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Says It Will Scale Up Its Ebola Response

UN Says It Will Scale Up Its Ebola Response

AFP (Nov. 20, 2014) UN Resident Coordinator David McLachlan-Karr and WHO representative in the country Daniel Kertesz updated the media on the UN Ebola response on Wednesday. Duration: 00:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Reuters - US Online Video (Nov. 20, 2014) U.S. Congress hears from a victim and company officials as it holds a hearing on the safety of Takata airbags after reports of injuries. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Costs Almost As Much As War And Terrorism

Obesity Costs Almost As Much As War And Terrorism

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) The newest estimate of the cost of obesity is pretty jarring — $2 trillion. But how did researchers get to that number? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Crisis Affecting US Adoptions

Ebola Crisis Affecting US Adoptions

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Sanborn family had hoped they'd be able to bring home their 5-year-old adopted son from Liberia by now. But Ebola has forced them to wait. The boy is just one of thousands of orphans in West Africa who've been impacted by the deadly virus. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins