Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First comprehensive review of European breast cancer screening programs finds benefits outweigh harm

Date:
September 12, 2012
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
A major review of breast cancer screening services in Europe has concluded that the benefits of screening in terms of lives saved outweigh the harms caused by over-diagnosis.

A major review of breast cancer screening services in Europe, jointly led by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, has concluded that the benefits of screening in terms of lives saved outweigh the harms caused by over-diagnosis.

The results, which are published in a special supplement of The Journal of Medical Screening September 13, show that for every 1,000 women screened every two years from the age of 50 to the age of about 68-69, between seven and nine lives would be saved, and four cases would be over-diagnosed.

The European Screening Network (EUROSCREEN) working group, with members from nine European countries where outcome of screening programmes have been assessed, reviewed the estimates of benefit in published European studies in terms of breast cancer deaths prevented, and the major harms, in particular, the rates of what are called "over-diagnosed" cancers. These are breast cancers diagnosed as a result of screening, which would never have given rise to any symptoms during a woman's lifetime and would not have been diagnosed had she not been screened.

A second working group -- European Network for Indicators on Cancer (EUNICE) -- reviewed the organisation, participation rates and main performance parameters of 26 screening programmes in 18 countries, involving 12 million women, between 2001 and 2007. The reports from both working groups have contributed to the review just published.

Stephen Duffy, Professor of Cancer Screening at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Barts and The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, part of Queen Mary, University of London (UK), who is one of the coordinators of the EUROSCREEN working group and co-author of the supplement, said: "This is the only comprehensive review of the results of breast screening services in Europe. It reports results from screening millions of women, and confirms that the screening services are delivering the benefits expected from the research studies conducted years ago. In particular, it is good news that lives saved by screening outweigh over-diagnosed cases by a factor of two to one."

The researchers also found that for every 1,000 women screened, 170 women would have at least one recall followed by a non-invasive assessment before absence of cancer could be confirmed (a negative result), and 30 women would have at least one recall followed by invasive procedures, such as a biopsy, before confirming a negative result. Screening results that lead to recalls in these circumstances are called "false positives" and can cause women stress and anxiety until the negative result is confirmed.

Dr Eugenio Paci, Director of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute in Florence, Italy, who is a second EUROSCREEN coordinator and co-author, said: "By weighing up the pros and cons of breast cancer screening programmes we hope to ensure that women are fully aware of the chief benefits and harms and can make a fully informed choice when they decide whether or not they wish to attend screening. There has been quite a lot of discussion recently over the worth of breast cancer screening and for this reason it is timely that the international group of experts has assessed the impact of population-based screening in Europe and has found that it is contributing to the reduction in deaths from the disease.

"We believe that not only should our conclusions be communicated to women offered breast screening in Europe, but that, in addition, communication methods should be improved in order to raise women's awareness, and to make information more accessible, relevant and comprehensible."

Breast cancer facts and figures:

  • Worldwide, breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women and approximately 1.38 million women were diagnosed with this disease in 2008 (the year for which most recent figures are available).
  • In Europe, including non-European Union (EU) countries, 425,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in 2008 and 129,000 European women died of the disease. Data source: Ferlay J et al. GLOBOCAN 2008, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide. International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2010.
  • In the UK breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, with more than 48,400 women diagnosed each year and around 11,550 women dying from the disease. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is one in eight.
  • The UK's NHS breast screening programme detected almost 16,500 cases of breast cancer in 2009/2010. Data source: Cancer Research UK key facts.
  • In Europe, approximately 100,000-140,000 cancers are detected by screening each year among women aged 50-69.
  • The UK is conducting a review of breast cancer screening in order to assess benefits and harms, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, and to which Prof Duffy submitted evidence earlier this year.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. EUROSCREEN working group. Summary of the evidence of breast cancer screening outcomes in Europe and first estimate of the benefit and harm balance sheet. Journal of Medical Screening, 2012, volume 19, supplement 1

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "First comprehensive review of European breast cancer screening programs finds benefits outweigh harm." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912192835.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2012, September 12). First comprehensive review of European breast cancer screening programs finds benefits outweigh harm. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912192835.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "First comprehensive review of European breast cancer screening programs finds benefits outweigh harm." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912192835.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 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