Breast cancer screening – more articles

The harms and benefits of modern screening mammography. Joann G Elmore, Russell P Harris.
‘Women need more balanced information’.
BMJ 2014;348:g3824

and linked paper:

Modern mammography screening and breast cancer mortality: population study. Harald Weedon-Fekjær, researcher, Pål R Romundstad, Lars J Vatten.
BMJ 2014;348:g3701

Future rapid responses to both the above are likely to be lively.

Also on the same theme, Paul Taylor takes a look at Breast Cancer Screening with an article of that title in the London Review of Books. Vol. 36 No. 11 · 5 June 2014
pages 30-32.

I’ve noticed that when the risks or harms of breast screening are mentioned, there is not usually a comprehensive list. Sometimes, only ‘unnecessary biopsies and anxiety’ are mentioned; ‘overdiagnosis’ is still confused with ‘false positive’ and many women do not realise that overdiagnosis leads to actual treatment.
Often, the consequences of a ‘cancer patient’ label’ are not spelled out (eg insurance difficulties) let alone side effects of treatment – which may be a lifelong condition eg lymphoedema (and, after treatment, even the risk of lymphoedema is lifelong!) and which may necessitate wearing a thick, tight compression garment – even in hot weather.
Concentrating only on statistics of ‘survivors’ of breast cancer does not acknowledge the effects of treatment on quality of life of those women and their families. I wonder how many of those women accepting an invitation to breast screening today will even have heard of ‘lymphoedema’?
(See St. Lukes Crypt/Sydney St, London SW3 6NH
020 7351 0990.)


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, clinical trials, Compassion in healthcare, healthcare modernisation, patient safety, Screening, Screening Mammography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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