[The Dutch mammography screening programme] seems to have little impact on the burden of advanced breast cancers, which suggests a marginal effect on breast cancer mortality. About half of screen-detected breast cancers would represent overdiagnosis
Falling breast cancer mortality rates in the Netherlands is not accredited to screening
Women in Holland have been encouraged to undergo mammography screening biennially between the ages of 50 and 75 since 1989. This recommendation was extended to women aged 70 to 75 in 1997, and included digital mammography (which can detect increasingly small breast tumours of varying degrees of clinical importance) from 2006.
Despite these precautions, latest research reveals that screening is likely to be responsible for 5% reductions in breast cancer mortality, in comparison with a 28% reduction thanks to improved treatments.
The researchers point out that, alongside the marginal impact of screening, it is also important to consider that overdiagnosis ‘has steadily increased over time’ in the past 24 years.
The study, carried out by Philippe Autier of the International Prevention Research Institute, France, has some limitations and factors which could affect the results, as acknowledged by the researchers.
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