Effectiveness of mammograms vastly overestimated: Study

During a recent study, scientists have come to know that the benefits of breast cancer screening or mammograms are largely overestimated. According to scientists conducting this new study, routine breast screening is not as effective in saving lives as previously believed.

Previous research concluded that mammography programs are capable reducing chances of death from breast cancer by as much as 25%. However, recent data revealed that those programs can reduce chances of succumbing to breast cancer by less than 10%.

According to experts representing the University of Strathclyde and Kings College London, the previous studies ignored the huge progress in breast cancer treatment, which is the primary reason behind the increase in survival rates among patients developing the disease.

This week a Harvard University study involving 16 million women revealed that breast cancer screening is resulting in several false diagnoses of the condition. As a result, many women are undergoing chemotherapy for benign tumors that never created any issue for them.

Cancer screening is done with the goal of reducing the chances of death from the disease. Doctors recommend it as it helps in detecting cancer at an early stage, which allows doctors to start treatment before the cancer begins to spread and thereby increases the patient’s chances of surviving significantly.

However, this new study revealed that in spite of carrying out breast cancer screening at regular intervals, the number of advanced breast cancer cases couldn’t be reduced appreciably.


The study’s lead author Prof Philippe Autier said that contrary to their expectations, he and his colleagues found that a number of studies carried out in Australia, Europe and North America have shown that there has been no reduction in the advanced breast cancer rates in those parts of the world. For those who don’t know: the majority of the women living in these three continents regularly attend breast cancer screening. Prof. Autier works at the Institute of Global Public Health, a wing of the University of Strathclyde.

The professor believes that if the previous trials had opted for similar statistical analyses, they would have also concluded that mammograms can reduce a patient’s chances of dying from breast cancer by around 10%. The researcher, however, said that screening for colorectal and cervical cancers can reduce the number of advanced cancers significantly.