“Breast cancer screening causes more damage than previously thought.” By Sarah Bosely, The Guardian (U.K.)

Breast cancer screening causes more harm than has previously been recognised, even though it saves lives, according to an independent review set up following years of scientific controversy surrounding the NHS programme. Around 1,300 lives are saved every year by mammography, which women are invited to undergo between the ages of 50 to 70, said the review, which recommends that screenings should continue. But 4,000 women will undergo unnecessary treatment, including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, for a cancer they would not otherwise have known about and which would have done them no harm in their lifetime. Some breast cancers are so tiny and slow growing that they would never be a threat to a woman’s health, the review says. The independent review panel was set up by the government and the charity Cancer Research UK under the chairmanship of Sir Michael Marmot and comprised scientists who had never published on breast screening before, in order to establish their impartiality on an issue that has provoked impassioned argument between epidemiologists.

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The article refers to research published here: The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 30 October 2012, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61611-0

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