Breast cancer screenings can save lives despite the argument that over diagnosis causes problems which may have never existed in some women, Reuters reports.
An independent review released on breast cancer screenings was released by the The Lancet medical journal and commissioned by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and Britain’s Department of Health. An intense debate in the international health community about routine screening benefits, arguing it does more harm than good, is what initiated the research project.
It has been argued that routine screenings can subject some women to radiotherapy, unnecessary surgery, and medication in order to treat cancers which would have posed no threat in the beginning.
The chief executive of CRUK, Harpal Kumar, said there are some shortcomings in routine screening but also said that until breast cancer monitoring becomes more sophisticated, it’s the best option:
“Screening remains one of the best ways to spot the very early signs of breast cancer, at a stage when treatment is most likely to be successful. Yet, as the review shows, some cancers will be diagnosed and treated that would never have caused any harm.”
According to a panel of experts from University College London, lead by professor Sir Michael Marmot, screening can prevent 1,300 deaths annually in Britain, but also can cause about 4,000 women to receive treatment for conditions that would never have afflicted them.
So it boils down to this-every one death averted, three women will be over-treated.
Improved breast cancer screening information is called for by the review panel, giving women a better understanding about both the potential benefits and harms of having a mammogram.