Dr Jack A T Edmonds MB BS FRCGP

Private General Practitioner

Your Health in Our Hands

120 Harley Street
London
W1G 7JW

Phone: 020 7935 5050
Fax: 020 7935 3888
Email: enquiry@drjackedmonds.co.uk

BREAST CANCER SCREENING

 – AN INTERESTING FACT

Recently published analysis (in the British Journal of Cancer, January 2017)  of the effects of the UK breast screening programme first initiated in 1988 shows that from that date to until 1995 there was a 21% reduction in death from breast cancer in the population of women screened.   But statistics can be persuaded to lull the reader into a false sense of self-congratulation.  Further analysis looking under this layer of success shows that most women with breast cancer die from other causes of mortality (like heart disease) and that the NHS has to pay for screening 1000 women to save just 1 woman from dying of breast cancer.   As one commentator said “this is important if you are that woman but the overall benefit is relatively moderate.”

Other good news is that in comparison with screening programmes for breast cancer throughout the world the reduction in death from breast cancer in the UK is similar – the average is 19%.  We are performing to par in the UK but the challenge is to do better while avoiding over diagnosis and over treatment.

I recommend routine mammographic screening every 3 years beginning with base line imaging in your late forties.  I would bring the starting age down for patients with a strong family history of breast disease and for women who have known fibrocystistic breast changes.

News - BBC Health