31 per cent of breast cancers estimated to be misdiagnosis

Since screening using mammograms became standard practice in the USA, more than a million women have been unnecessarily treated as a result of mis-diagnosis. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has produced this worrying report.
It is not news at CANCERactive though. We have been warning women of the dangerous deficiencies in screening mammograms for nearly ten years now.
The results will hopefully add further caution to the increased usage of a controversial screening tool aimed at detecting tumors before they spread. As we have pointed out, screening mammograms do not detect a cancer early nor can they be sure to detect a cancer before it has spread.
’We estimated that breast cancer was over-diagnosed that is tumors were detected on screening that would never have led to clinical symptoms -- in 1.3 million US women in the past 30 years,’ wrote Gilbert Welch, of Dartmout Medical School, and Archie Bleyer, of the Oregon Health and Science University, in their study.
’We estimated that in 2008, breast cancer was over-diagnosed in more than 70,000 women; this accounted for 31 per cent of all breast cancer diagnosed,’ they said.
Their research concluded that since mammograms became standard in the U.S., the number of early-stage breast cancers detected doubled.
However, in that same time frame, the rate of women diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer has only dropped 9 per cent.
The patients were then treated with major medial procedures like surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and other unnecessary and invasive therapies. If they lived past 5 years, these women were included in the successes of breast cancer 5-year survival statistics. If they died within 5 years screening mammography has a serious case to answer.
If the same figures apply to the UK and all such misdiagnoses were 5-year survivors then survival rates amongst those with breast cancer would fall from the low eighties in the UK to less than 70 per cent.

October - December Cancer Watch 2012
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