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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid