in brief: study finds regular mammograms do not reduce breast cancer death rates
A ground-breaking study has found that regular breast screens do not reduce death rates from breast cancer.
BreastScreen Australia claims that regular mammograms can reduce breast cancer death rates among women aged 50-69 by one third. However, the Canadian study of around 90, 000 women between the ages of 40-59, conduced over 25 years, concluded that, while screening did result in higher likelihoods of breast cancer diagnosis, there was no difference in breast cancer death rates among women who had had regular mammograms and those who had not.
While the benefits of regular breast screens are widely publicised, with 1.7 million Australian women having at least one mammogram every two years, this study challenges popular discourse, actually claiming that regular screens may be resulting in harmful over-diagnosis. According to the study, one in 424 women who had a mammogram received unnecessary cancer treatments, with one in five cancers found through mammography being over-diagnosed as a critical threat to the woman’s health.
With breast cancer being one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths among women in Australia, it is recommended by BreastScreen Australia that women aged 50-74 attend regular, biennial mammograms. Women aged 40-49 are eligible for screens, however these are less effective due to the denser breast tissue in younger women.
For this reason, mammograms are not recommended for women under 40, but it is important to know the normal look and feel of your breasts, lest you find something of concern (last night’s residual pizza toppings that awkwardly fell down your top and got stuck there probz don’t count, guys).