Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Report Calls Mammography Screening 'Unjustified'

    By
    WebMD Health News

    Jan. 6, 2000 (Atlanta) -- The scientific evidence that says women should get regular mammograms is flawed, concludes a hotly debated new report appearing in the current issue of The Lancet. Of the eight clinical studies of mammography screening -- in which a half-million women took part -- the report advises doctors to ignore six "biased" studies and to focus on two trials it says show no benefit for screening.

    "We feel that the [beneficial] effect of mammography [screening] has not been proved," co-author Peter C. Gøtzsche, MD, tells WebMD. "The two well-done trials did not find any effect, even a trend. We do not say mammography is without effect, we say we could not see an effect. If there is an effect of mammography it is likely to be much smaller than we had previously thought."

    The American Cancer Society takes strong exception to these conclusions. In an interview to provide objective comment, ACS chief medical officer Harmon Eyre, MD, dismisses the new data analysis in no uncertain terms. "The ACS continues to recommend that women get regular mammograms," Eyre says. "The most important person to get that done is the physician. We believe that by recommending regular mammograms, U.S. physicians have dramatically reduced breast-cancer mortality. We see no reason for them to stop doing so."

    But Gøtzsche, director of the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, stands by the report. "My personal opinion is that if a woman turned to me for advice and asked me if she should join a mammography screening program, with examinations every second year, I would advise her not to do so," he says.

    Eyre could not disagree more. "The American Cancer Society very strongly believes that mammography reduces the mortality rate from breast cancer and that the evidence is incredibly strong in the U.S.," he says. "The paper is arguing they haven't seen the same drop in breast-cancer death rates in other countries that is seen in the U.S., but no other country is doing [mammography screening] as frequently or as well as we do it in the U.S."

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
     
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
     
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    VIDEO
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Article
     
    Woman getting mammogram
    Article
    Screening Tests for Women
    Article
     
    serious woman
    Article
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    QUIZ
     
    what is your cancer risk
    Article
    breast cancer survivors
    Article