Does screening for breast cancer with mammography do more harm than good?
From: The Cochrane Collaboration
- Gøtzsche, P.C., Nielsen, M., 1996. Screening for breast cancer with mammography, in: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- Seven trials including 600,000 women
- The paper is a systematic review / meta analysis of all relevant trials.
- This means that the data from all similar trials has been grouped to form an overall outcome.
- Screening leads to a reduction in breast cancer mortality of 15% but to a 30% over diagnosis and over treatment.
- This means that for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout a 10 year period, one will have her life prolonged. However, 10 healthy women, who would not have been incorrectly diagnosed if there had not been a screening, will be diagnosed as breast cancer patients and will be treated unnecessarily.
- Furthermore, more than 200 women will experience important psychological distress for many months because of false positive findings.