Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Polarized arguments about breast screening are not helping women, warns expert

Date:
June 24, 2010
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Polarised arguments about the benefits and harms of breast screening are not helping women to make an informed decision, argues a senior doctor in a new article.

Polarised arguments about the benefits and harms of breast screening are not helping women to make an informed decision, argues a senior doctor online in the British Medical Journal.

Klim McPherson, Professor of Public Health Epidemiology at the University of Oxford looks at the evidence and calls for dispassionate analysis of all available data.

The burden of breast cancer is unremitting and we must do anything we can to contain it, he says. But screening for a progressive disease is justified only if earlier diagnosis and treatment improve disease progression.

A recent US report on screening for breast cancer estimated that the mortality reductions attributable to breast screening are 15% for women aged 39-49, 14% for those aged 50-59, and 32% for those aged 60-69. Worse still, estimated numbers of women needed to be invited to a US screening programme in order to save one life are high. For the younger group it is nearly 2,000 while in those aged 60-69 it is still nearly 400. In the UK, the figure is 1,610 for women aged 40-55.

A recent analysis from the Nordic Cochrane Centre also claimed that one in three breast cancers detected in screening programmes is overdiagnosed, although others argue that the lives saved by screening greatly outnumber overdiagnosed cases.

So are women more likely to be overdiagnosed than to have their life saved by screening mammography, asks McPherson?

Whatever we believe about the science, there is no doubt that screening for breast cancer has limited benefit and some possibility of harm for an individual women and marginal cost effectiveness for a community, he says. So, has the time come for a serious scientific rethink of the benefits of the NHS screening programme in the context of cost effective care?

Arguments that polarise are unhelpful and render women, many with strong preferences, more helpless, he argues. For too long they have been misled and confused by too much agenda driven analyses of these data. What is required now is a full examination of all the data by dispassionate epidemiologists to get the best estimates in the UK screening setting.

Meanwhile, he believes that the NHS screening programme needs to be really clear about these uncertainties when communicating with women, and organisers of current trials need to be clear about how much of this uncertainty will be addressed, with what precision, and by when. "More importantly, we all need to understand better how a national programme of such importance could exist for so long with so many unanswered questions," he concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Polarized arguments about breast screening are not helping women, warns expert." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624214314.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2010, June 24). Polarized arguments about breast screening are not helping women, warns expert. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624214314.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Polarized arguments about breast screening are not helping women, warns expert." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624214314.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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