A recent study showed that the most prominent effect of screening mammography when considering general US population is overdiagnosis, a side effect of screening for early forms of the disease. The study entitled “Breast Cancer Screening, Incidence, and Mortality Across US Counties” was published this July in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The main objective of screening mammography is to reduce breast cancer mortality by identifying and treating cancer in the early course of the disease. It seems obvious that if tumors are detected in an earlier stage the diagnosis of smaller and more treatable tumors should increase, while there would be a decrease in the diagnosis of larger and fewer treatable cancers.
There has been increasing concerns that screening for early forms of the disease may lead to overdiagnosis by identifying small, indolent, or regressive breast tumors that may not become clinically relevant.
The research team examined the associations between rates of modern screening mammography and the incidence of breast cancer, mortality from breast cancer and tumor size. This type of study was performed at the population level by comparing regions of the United States that have different rates of screening.
The team analysed 16 million women with 40 years or older living in 547 counties reporting to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and En