Book argues harm outweighs small number of lives saved, and accuses mammography supporters of misconduct
From The Guardian
Breast cancer screening can no longer be justified, because the harm to many women from needless diagnosis and damaging treatment outweighs the small number of lives saved, according to a book that accuses many in the scientific establishment of misconduct in their efforts to bury the evidence of critics and keep mammography alive.
Peter Gøtzsche, director of the independent Nordic Cochrane Collaboration, has spent more than 10 years investigating and analysing data from the trials of breast screening that were run, mostly in Sweden, before countries such as the UK introduced their national programmes.
Mammography screening: truth, lies and controversy, from Radcliffe Publishing, spells out the findings of the Nordic Cochrane group for laywomen, rather than for scientists.
The data, Gøtzsche has maintained for more than a decade, does not support mass screening as a preventive measure. Screening does not cut breast cancer deaths by 30%, it saves probably one life for every 2,000 women who go for a mammogram. But it harms 10 others. Cancerous cells that will go away again or never progress to disease in the woman’s lifetime are excised with surgery and sometimes (six times in 10) she will lose a breast. Treatment with radiotherapy and drugs, as well as the surgery itself, all have a heavy mental and physical cost.
“I believe the time has come to realise that breast cancer screening programmes can no longer be justified,” Gøtzsche said. “I recommend women to do nothing apart from attending a doctor if they notice anything themselves.”