Medicine has persisted with the idea that screening for breast cancer saves lives. Why? Because trial after trial has said so (with qualification). But a new study has come up with evidence that contradicts all the previous trials, and has concluded that breast cancer screening does nothing at all to save lives.
So what’s happened? The researchers say their new study is the first to use data from the ‘real world’ of clinical practice as opposed to the tightly-controlled tests that have been used in previous studies.
The study team, from the University of Washington School of Medicine, looked at the records of 1351 women who had died from breast cancer between 1983 and 1998, and compared them against a group of 2501 women, who were matched for age and risk of developing breast cancer, but who were free of cancer.
If screening works, the study team surmised, there should be more women in the cancer-free group who had been screened. To their surprise, this was not the case. Of the cancer group, 66 per cent of the women had been screened against 64 per cent of the women in the cancer-free group.
In other words, just as many women who had died from breast cancer had been screened as those who didn’t have the disease, which suggests that screening either didn’t detect the tumour in time, or didn’t detect it at all.
* So if screening isn’t going to help, what will? The answers can be found in the WDDTY Guide to Women’s Health. It tells you how to maintain good health, and avoid treatments and practices in medicine that are ineffective or harmful. It suggests the best way to prepare for the menopause, and how to avoid breast and other cancers, as well as many other ailments that can afflict women. To order your copy, click here: http://www.wddty.co.uk/shop/details.asp?product=107