Important facts about Breast Cancer
- Breast cancer screening programmes have not reduced breast cancer mortality rates.
- For the vast majority of women, the lifetime risk of dying from breast cancer is about 3%-4%.
- Women have more than a 50% chance of surviving breast cancer once it is diagnosed.
For more information on the failure of breast cancer screening programmes to reduce the mortality rate read Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies and Controversy, by Peter Gotzsche. Radcliffe Publishing 2012.
Important facts about Breast Cancer screening
If 2000 women are screened regularly for 10 years:
- 1 woman will avoid dying from breast cancer
- 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed without screening, will have breast cancer diagnosed and be treated unnecessarily:
- 4 of these women will have a breast removed,
- 6 will receive breast conserving surgery,
- and most will receive radiotherapy;
- 1800 will be alive after 10 years; without screening 1799 will be alive.
Of 2000 women (in Europe) who participate in 10 rounds of screening:
- 500 will be recalled for additional investigations because cancer is suspected;
- about 125 will have a biopsy
- 200 will experience psychological distress for several months related to a false positive finding.
Screening can provide false reassurance. Up to 50% of cancers among women in screening programmes are detected between two screening rounds, and these interval cancers are the most dangerous. Mammography is painful for about a third of women.
The information above is contained in a pamphlet that provides accurate information on the benefits and risks of breast cancer screening and can be accessed at: https://nordic.cochrane.org/sites/nordic.cochrane.org/files/public/uploads/images/mammography/mammography-leaflet.pdf
At the beginning of 2013, leading American cancer scientists called for a set of changes to deal with the problem of over-diagnosis and overtreatment caused by cancer screening.
More from Auckland Women’s Health Council:
More trouble with BreastScreen Aotearoa
Important Issues in Cancer Screening
The Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer
The Breast Cancer Genes
Rethinking Breast Cancer Treatment