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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora