Increased breast cancer screening ‘led to over diagnosis’ researchers say

“Mammograms have doubled the number of early-stage breast cancers detected in the U.S. each year, while the rate of advanced disease has declined just 8 percent annually, according to a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine. One third of breast cancers detected and treated posed no threat to health, the research also found,” Nicole Ostrow wrote for Bloomberg late last week. Ostrow continued, “The study backs the 2009 guidelines by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that advise against routine mammograms for women ages 40 to 49 who aren’t at increased risk for breast cancer. The task force made the recommendations because of high rates of false-positive results leading to unnecessary biopsies and anxiety. Some medical and advocacy groups have opposed the guidelines on the grounds that more screening saves lives. ‘We believe we’ve supported the more conservative guidelines reducing the mammograms in a woman’s lifetime from about 40 to about 13 and thereby not only reducing the other risks but the risk of over diagnosis,’ said Archie Bleyer, the lead author of the study and chairman of the Institutional Review Board at St. Charles Health System in Bend, Oregon. Bleyer also is a clinical research professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

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