Overdiagnosis of Breast Cancer
There is already a lot of controversy about a just published study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The suggestion is that routine mammograms, likely especially in the US where the recommendation is to start at age 40, lead to a "significant amount" of overdiagnosis. In the cancer world, this means that women are being diagnosed and treated, with all the risks we know about, for breast cancers that would never cause them harm. Clearly, the real challenge is to understand which cancers are potentially dangerous and which are not; we are not there yet.
This is a summary from Reuters with a link to read their full article. I am also including a link to the journal article if you are interested in reading the whole thing.
Routine mammograms may result in significant
overdiagnosis of invasive breast cancer
Late-stage disease incidence not reduced by screening
Boston, MA - New Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) research suggests that routinmammography screening-long viewed as an essential tool in detecting early breast cancers-may in fact lead to a significant amount of overdiagnosis of disease that would otherwise have proved harmless. Based on a study of women in Norway, the researchers estimate that between 15% and 25% of breast cancer cases are overdiagnosed.
The study appears in the April 3, 2012 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
View the original article here.