Apart from false positives, false negatives and radiation-induced cancers, mounting research shows a major harm of breast screening (using mammography to screen symptomless women) is over-diagnosis and consequent over-treatment – detecting and treating changes that, if left alone, might simply regress or grow so slowly that they do no harm. Yet the government is going ahead with a huge trial (‘the largest in the world’) of extended breast screening and women are not being fully informed about the risks.
HealthWatch, the independent charity, has posted its concerns about the trial:
Editor’s Choice: Think hard before expanding cancer screening. Fiona Godlee, Editor in chief.