Breast screening concerns remain unanswered

So the Independent Marmot Breast Screening Review Report has acknowledged that 4000 women a year (in the UK alone) are over diagnosed and treated unnecessarily.

It’s good to have this out in the open at last. However, the claim of 1300 lives per year saved is based on 20 year old trials and does not take into account vastly improved treatments (tamoxifen etc); 20% of improvement at the time of obsolete therapy becomes a tiny number in absolute numbers with modern treatment. Later research has shown there is virtually no benefit in breast screening, but the picture is skewed if only the deaths from breast cancer are factored into calculations, not mortality from other causes ie those who die from side effects of treatment (eg heart problems from radiotherapy).

It’s good to hear that screening information is to be honest so that women will be able to make an informed choice about being screened. Yes, each woman should decide whether or not they want to be screened – it’s their decision, whatever is right for them – so we are told. So why is screening still being ‘recommended’.

1 There should be no recommendation – simply access to full, honest information with contact details for those who wish to make an appointment.

2 There should be no set appointment – implicit recommendation.

3 The Age Extension Randomised Controlled Trial information sent to women does not explicitly tell them that they are being invited to participate in an RCT.

4 New screening information will not be available for some months, yet screening continues; new information leaflets are not even planned for those invited to screening as part of the Age Extension RCT.

5 Since screening is acknowledged to cause so much harm, how can this trial with its inadequate information and questionable ‘informed consent’ be allowed to continue unchanged?

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About bmitzi

Medical writer, author, artist. Cancer campaigner. Aiming always to improve health services and bring compassion into health care.
This entry was posted in Breast Cancer, Campaigns, Compassion in healthcare, Screening, Screening Mammography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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