Breast Cancer Screenings Appear to Do More Harm Than Good, Danish Study Says

Breast Cancer Screenings Appear to Do More Harm Than Good, Danish Study Says
Breast cancer screenings resulted in a substantial rise in early breast tumors and lesions detected, but didn't reduce the numbers of advanced cancers diagnosed and likely led to excessive overtreatment, a study of screenings in Denmark reported. In fact, researchers suggested that one in every three invasive tumors and cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) lesions found represented an overdiagnosis, defined as treatment given that exposes a patient to more harm than benefit because the tumor or lesion was not likely to advance during that person's lifetime. “These findings support that screening has not accomplished the promise of a reduction in invasive therapy or disease-specific mortality,” the researchers wrote in the study, “Breast Cancer Screening in Denmark A Cohort Study of Tumor Size and Overdiagnosis,” published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Effective breast cancer screening aims to detect early stage cancer and to reduce the incidence of advanced tumors, but excessive treatment stemming from overdiagnosis is a concern. Using data from the Danish Breast Cancer Group (DBCG) and the Danish Cancer Registry (DCR), Karsten Juhl Jørgensen, MD, with the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues examined how cancer screenings offered  to women affected the incidence of advanced breast cancer, and the rates of overdiagnosis. The database included all Danish women, ages 35 to 84, in areas with screening programs or not, who were diagnosed with a breast cancer — advanced or early — from 1980 to 20
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