Screening mammography – proof of overdiagnosis

An article by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, The Jerusalem Post’s Health & Science Editor,  describes a paper which provides the molecular proof of over-diagnosis:

 

  Breast Cancers at Lower-Risk Detected with Widespread Use of Mammograms

Released: Dec/19/2011 2:00 PM EST

Source: University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

 

‘As a woman ages, her chances of being diagnosed with a lower-risk breast tumor increase, according to a novel study led by UCSF which found that for women over 50, a substantial number of cancers detected by mammograms have good prognoses.

 

The study provides the first molecular evidence of an increase in low- or ultra-low-risk cancers in the tumors when detected by screening mammography. And it provides a basis for integrating molecular profiling at the time of diagnosis to help avoid overtreatment.

 

In their research, the UCSF scientists at the forefront of breast cancer biology, in collaboration with colleagues at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, analyzed the biology of tumors detected more than 20 years ago – before the advent of routine mammography – alongside tumors detected five years ago, after widespread screening for breast cancer was implemented. They found that mammography appears to reveal slow- to moderate-growth tumors in the population today.’

 

The article is published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (http://www.springerlink.com/content/k364777574l6x1n2/fulltext.pdf)

 

“A significant number of screen-detected tumors are very low risk,’’ said lead author Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “It shows that we have an opportunity to improve care by using molecular predictors to recognize who has these ultra-low-risk or idle tumors, and safely minimize treatment.

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About bmitzi

Medical writer, author, artist. Cancer campaigner. Aiming always to improve health services and bring compassion into health care.
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