News / Health

Study Finds Minimal Benefit With Breast Cancer Screening

A mammogram image
A mammogram image
Jessica Berman

A new study on the effectiveness of X-ray mammography to screen for breast cancer in women found that mammograms resulted in only a slight, 10-percent decrease in deaths from the disease.  

The study involved just over 40,000 Norwegian women, between the ages of 50 and 69, who were part of a breast cancer screening program. In addition to their participation in a breast cancer management program, women underwent screening mammography every two years, between 1996 and 2005.

Their outcomes were compared to women in other countries who were also part of a breast cancer education and management program but did not have mammograms. Researchers found that the group that underwent  mammography only had a 10 percent reduced risk of death from breast cancer compared to the women who weren't X-rayed.  

Marvin Zelen is with Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston and a co-author of the study:

"Our findings are controversial because most physicians and investigators have felt that the reduction in breast cancer mortality rate would be much larger," said Marvin Zelen. "And we were surprised ourselves."

Zelen says it's unclear why mammograms were not more effective in reducing the death rate from breast cancer over the 10-year period.

"But of course there were advances made in treatment over this period of time which may have been responsible for a reduction in breast cancer mortality, as well as perhaps the population is more sensitized to any anomalies occurring in the breast," he said.

The findings are likely to add fuel to a fire that began last year, when an independent study group in the United States, called the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, recommended against routine mammograms for women beginning at age 40.

Instead, the panel recommended routine screening should begin at age 50, when women are at a significantly higher risk of developing the disease.   

The panel's critics argued that encouraging women under 50 to skip routine mammograms could result in many more undetected cases of breast cancer and more unnecessary deaths from the disease.

Zelen acknowledges the Norwegian study might now raise questions in the United States about the benefits of screening for breast cancer in women in their fifties.

But he says the study was not intended solely to evaluate the benefits of mammography alone.

"We're evaluating this program to reduce the mortality in Norway," said Zelen. "So, if a lot of women didn't participant in the program, it would not be a very good program, even though the diagnostic mortality would be very good.  In this situation, about 77 percent of women who were given an invitation did participate in the program."

An article on the effectiveness of mammograms in preventing breast cancer deaths in Norway is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

You May Like

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid