An article by Nina Lakhani in The Independent, Thursday, 1 September 2011 describes a research article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine by Peter C Gotzsche and Karsten Juhl Jorgensen of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, Denmark which questions success claimed by the NHS Breast Screening Service, with detailed explanations of why they do so.
J R Soc Med 2011: 104; 361-369
‘The Breast Screening Programme and misinforming the public’ calls for more honesty from the programme and criticizes the information provided for the public. It concludes that spokespeople for the Programme still use beliefs about benefit ‘that prevailed 25 years ago’ – also that ‘concerns about over-diagnosis have not been addressed and official documents still downplay this most important harm of breast cancer screening.’
This is a great overview of debate over the past two years which clearly shows why women need more (specific and honest) information about the risks involved before they can give genuinely informed consent to a procedure which is so likely to cause them harm.
Most people think screening can only be beneficial – ‘catch it early, catch it small – our lives will be saved’. Unfortunately, cancer is not as simple as that, as eminent researchers, surgeons, epidemiologists and others have discovered.
See also letter in The Times, today 2 September, from Professor M Baum (posted earlier) which details how the NHS BSP could change and improve the service it offers via triage.