Is the game finally up for screening mammograms?

2014 Research

Cancer Research and their claims that screening mammograms save many lives each year are, yet again, looking hollow.
In a long-running Canadian study of 90,000 women, the researchers found that, over the course of 25 years, death rates from cancer were about the same for women who had regular mammograms, as they were for those who did not (Published BMJ Feb 2014). 

The research took place following women ages 40-59 at 15 screening centres in six Canadian Provinces. Lead researchers were Anthony B Miller, Claus Wall, Cornelia J Baines, Ping Sun, Teresa To and Professor Steven A Narod.

To my readers who know that I have been questioning the benefits of screening mammograms for eight or more years let me simply summarise my views:

1. Screening mammograms may well save a few lives. I am sure some women believe they would not be here today but for a screening mammogram.

2. However screening mammograms cost lives:

a. Over-diagnosis and misdiagnosis runs to about 35% if you look at the average of the reports

b. Some of these women are unnecessarily treated, with dire consequences.

c. At risk women (for example, those with a genetic fault are frequently told to have an annual scan, yet the radiation can worsen their situation and bring on the cancer.

3. But my bigger point is that, if (albeit well-meaning) people, had heeded the research available ten years ago and not spent fortunes on mobile machines in Sainsbury car parks and so on, maybe we’d have been able to use that money (and brain power) to develop accurate blood tests by now.   

Critics accuse the Canadian researchers of using outdated machines. That’s not meant to be irony. 

2014 Research
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