Breast Cancer screening doesn\’t work

This is for a given value of \”doesn\’t work\” of course.

For the study, published in the British Medical Journal, falls in breast cancer death rates were compared in three pairs of similar territories: Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland; Sweden to Norway; and The Netherlands to Flanders in Belgium.

In the first of each pair screening was introduced 10 to 15 years earlier than in the second.

However, they found little difference between the pairs in breast cancer mortality rate falls from 1989 to 2006.

The percentage drops were as follows: Northern Ireland 29, Republic of Ireland 26; Sweden 16, Norway 24; Netherlands 25, Flanders 25.

The similarities \”suggest that screening did not play a direct part in the reductions in breast cancer mortality\”, they concluded.

A nice little natural experiment they\’ve exploited there too.

Quite what this means in terms of policy though…….I have a feeling there\’s rather too much investde in the whole idea of mass screening for anyone, in political reality, to be able to stop it.

3 thoughts on “Breast Cancer screening doesn\’t work”

  1. This is a classic comparison of apples and pears. Breast screening is a diagnostic tool, not a cure for cancer. Indeed, it’s doubtful whether it’s useful to talk about “curing” cancer at all.

    Rather, it’s all about survival rates. There is no question that the earlier the diagnosis, the better the survival rate, and there is some evidence to suggest that the UK’s historically poor survival rates have been at least partly a function of poor rates of early diagnosis. That’s the rationale for the breast screening programme. It’s nothing to do with mortality rates.

  2. ‘Falls in breast cancer death rates’ and breast screening patterns are surely linked, yet the latter must represent only a minority influence on the former. Causes of cancer and general lifestyles, plus speed, style and efficacy of both treatment and after-care must surely come into it…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *