Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world. However, advances in disease management have significantly reduced mortality rates. With increasing medical coverage, breast cancer screening may have lost its luster. A new study finds that the benefits of these screenings are no longer proportionate to the costs of overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
“The positive effect of screening is currently diminishing because cancer treatment is improving. In the last 25 years, the death rate from breast cancer has practically halved,” said Henrik Støvring, author of the study published in the European Journal of Public Health.
The study looked at 10,580 breast cancer deaths in Norwegian women between the ages of 50 and 75.
The results showed that in Norway in 1996 it took 731 women to prevent one death from breast cancer, while in 2016 it would have taken about 1364 to a maximum of 3500 women to achieve the same result.
Støvring noted that the results do not bode well for the screening programs. Preliminary screening requires a mammogram. It is an X-ray of the breast that can detect cellular changes in breast tissue that could be cancerous.
“One in five women aged 50 to 70 who are told they have breast cancer have received a ‘waste’ diagnosis as a result of the screening – without the screening they would never have known or felt breast cancer in their lifetime,” she explained Stövring.
According to the study, the problem lies in our inability to differentiate between small cancerous tumors that could prove fatal and those that don’t cause problems.
Some of these small lumps are so benign that the woman would have died of natural causes from undetected breast cancer had she not been screened. Once a cancerous lump has been discovered, regardless of its likelihood of actually being fatal, it needs to be treated now. This would not be mandatory for all women – we just don’t know for whom.
“The women who are invited to be screened are living longer because all breast cancer patients are living longer and because we have better drugs and more effective chemotherapy and because we now have treatment pathways for cancer, which means the healthcare system is responding more quickly than it was a decade ago.” ‘ Støvring concluded.
https://www.ibtimes.com.au/do-we-no-longer-need-breast-cancer-screenings-1837895?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution Do we no longer need breast cancer screening?