thermography-vs-mammogramThe Department of Health has said it will revise the advice it gives to women before breast cancer screening, following a report showing the programme prevents deaths, but also results in over diagnosis. The meta-analysis of evidence found women who are invited to a breast cancer screening had a 20% reduced relative risk of dying from breast cancer compared with women who arent invited to screening. But they also found the chance of over diagnosis was just over 1% for the roughly 307, 000 women aged 50 to 52 years who are invited to begin screening every year. Jointly-commissioned by Cancer Research UK and the DH, the independent panel concluded that the benefits of early detection and treatment with screening outweighed the harms, but added that women should be made aware of the risks so they can make an informed decision.

The report has led to a review of the information provided by the NHS when women are invited for screening. The panel conducted a meta-analysis of 11 randomised control trials assessing whether breast cancer screening resulted in fewer deaths and the evidence for over-diagnosis, compared with no screening. Although they acknowledged that there were limitations to the studies- all of which took place more than 20 years ago – they found the current breast cancer screening programme, which invites all women aged 50 to 70 years to screening every three years, prevented about 1,300 deaths from breast cancer a year.

It also found that each year around 4,000 breast cancers are over diagnosed – with women receiving treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy and medication for cancers that may not have come to clinical attention in the womans lifetime were it not for screening. The panel estimated that for the 10,000 women invited to screening from age 50 for 20 years, about 681 cancers will be found. Of those, 129 represent over diagnosis, and 43 deaths will be prevented.

Fortunately mammograms are not the only option, thermal imaging is not only radiation free, it also detects breast problems before they reach the stage where mammography is able to detect them. For further information regarding thermography contact Bill Bradford MD.

Originally posted 2012-11-01 18:39:31.

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