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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Why I Did not Attend Breast Screening



Breast cancer screening causes more damage than previously thought, headlines The Guardian, and Breast Cancer Screening Comes at a Cost, says Sci-Tech Today.

I had made an extensive research on mass breast screening of asymptomatic women like me, to make up my mind about whether to undergo the test that the UK's National Health Service (NHS) was offering me.

I had concluded that it was not a good idea and decided against it.

You can see the published results of my research here:

Mammogram

Mammography Benefits and Risks

DCIS | Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

Breast Screening


Excerpts from the Guardian article:
Around 4,000 women have unnecessary treatment for a disease that will never threaten their health, though tests should continue.

Breast cancer screening causes more harm than has previously been recognised, even though it saves lives, according to an independent review set up following years of scientific controversy surrounding the NHS programme.

Around 1,300 lives are saved every year by mammography, which women are invited to undergo between the ages of 50 to 70, said the review, which recommends that screenings should continue.

But 4,000 women will undergo unnecessary treatment, including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, for a cancer they would not otherwise have known about and which would have done them no harm in their lifetime. Some breast cancers are so tiny and slow growing that they would never be a threat to a woman's health, the review says.

The government is embarking on an immediate revision of the leaflet which invites women for screening, said national cancer director Sir Mike Richards, so that women can weigh up the benefits against potential harm and make their own decision as to whether to be screened.

While he welcomed the review panel's support for screening, he added: "The key thing is that we communicate this new information to women so they can make an informed choice for themselves.
And the Sci-Tech Today article begins:
A British panel says life-saving breast cancer screening has a cost: For every life saved, three other women were overdiagnosed, meaning they were unnecessarily treated for cancer that would never have threatened their lives. The British program has been slammed for focusing on the benefits of mammograms and downplaying the risks.

Breast cancer screening for women over 50 saves lives, an independent panel in Britain has concluded, confirming findings in U.S. and other studies.

But that screening comes with a cost: The review found that for every life saved, roughly three other women were overdiagnosed, meaning they were unnecessarily treated for a cancer that would never have threatened their lives.

The expert panel was commissioned by Cancer Research U.K. and Britain's department of health and analyzed evidence from 11 trials in Canada, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S.

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