Breast cancer screening doesn’t work: experts

Screening appears to have no effect on death rates

Amid a fierce debate about how often women should be screened for breast cancer, researchers from Denmark and Norway are reporting screening may have no effect on death rates. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, they said the reduction in breast cancer death rates in regions with screening were the same, or even smaller, than in areas where no women were screened. “Our results are similar to what has been observed in other countries with nationally organized programs,” lead researcher Karsten Jorgensen of the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen told Reuters. “It is time to question whether screening has delivered the promised effect on breast cancer mortality.” In Denmark, women are screened every two years from age 50, while in the U.S., following a controversial task force report in November, mammograms are recommended every one or two years for women aged 50 and up. Critics say widespread screening can be harmful as it can result in unnecessary biopsies, false positives and anxiety. Jorgensen said evidence suggests that for ever 2,000 women screened over 10 years, only one stands to have her life saved by the program, whereas the risk of an unnecessary breast cancer diagnosis is 10 times that.


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