Breast cancer test not as helpful

August 5th, 2010 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 5 (IANS) Breast cancer screening may not be as useful as thought because in some cases, where the disease does not need treatment as it can heal itself or is very slow growing, unnecessary treatment is given.
Mammograms just manage to save one out of 258 women screened in Britain, concludes Kim McPherson, Oxford University epidemiologist and professor, reports the Daily Mail.

Almost two million women in Britain are screened for breast cancer every year. The new review by McPherson has now raised questions about the wisdom of all screening programmes, including those for bowel, prostate and cervical cancer.

The review claims that the benefits of screening cancer - early detection and rapid treatment - have never been properly weighed against the drawbacks — the central one being that in some cases the disease does not need treatment as it can heal itself or is very slow growing.

In these cases, the individuals spend their life in the shadow of cancer without living longer.

Advocates of the breast screening programme say it saves 1,400 deaths a year and claim it saves two women’s lives for every one who receives unnecessary treatment.

But the critics dispute these figures, claiming that for every woman saved, as many as 10 undergo unnecessary treatment, which can even go as far as a mastectomy (surgical removal of one or both breasts, partially or completely) in extreme cases.

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