Breast screening – the Age Extended RCT

In an article in the BMJ ‘Views and Reviews’ column this week, Margaret McCartney, a general practitioner in Glasgow, looks at whether the trial to extend breast cancer screening is unethical and if it was government policy to extend screening regardless of the trial’s findings and asks, ‘do women even know that they are participants?’ (of a randomised controlled trial).

The harms of breast screening are now well documented – this further extension of the age range, the ‘largest Randomised Controlled Trial in the world’, raises many more concerns which are spelt out in the accompanying Rapid Responses.

A Trial To extend breast cancer screening may be unethical. Margaret McCartney.
BMJ 2014;349:g5105 and click on Responses, or go to


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. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Breast screening – the Age Extended RCT

  1. jimgthornton says:

    In my opinion it would be unethical to NOT do the trial. The alternative seems to be to extend this probably harmful programme with neither evaluation nor consent.

    • bmitzi says:

      The trial seems a good idea – however, not openly informing women about the harms of screening, or that they would be participating in a trial and the possible risks and harms, and not getting their properly informed consent (as is supposedly necessary in health research in this country) and not addressing the valid concerns that have been raised = not so good.

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