You may have read recent reports in the press about the results of the Independent UK Panel on Breast Cancer Screening. Now the Nordic Cochrane Centre has released its comments on the report. Whilst they say the report is a step in the right direction they point out several gross errors in the Panel’s conclusions.
Firstly, the UK panel concluded that ‘breast screening extends lives’ but according to Cochrane it has never been shown that women live longer, on average, if they go to screening. It is also important to point out that some of the healthy overdiagnosed women will die from their treatment, which is usually radiotherapy and sometimes chemo.
Cochrane also criticises the Panel’s conclusion that ‘the UK breast screening programme confers significant benefit and should continue. For each woman the choice is clear’. Cochrane points out that it is a value judgement whether the benefits are greater than the harms and that scientists cannot make this judgement on behalf of women. Women should decided for themselves, after adequate and above all honest information, and the choice is not at all clear.
Luckily for women who want to be properly informed, the Nordic Cochrane Centre has produced a screening leaflet that can be accessed on their website at http://www.cochrane.dk. The surgery cat recommends all women read it!