New Canadian Mammography Study Sparks Controversy

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controversy canada study mammo

A recent report from the Canadian National Breast Screening Study (CNBSS) determined that mammography screening does not reduce deaths from breast cancer.

The findings reignited the much heated debate that started in 2009 when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended biennial mammography screening for women ages 50 to 74 and individualized screening for younger women.

Two new commentaries published in Annals of Internal Medicine present and confer the findings of the recent Canadian study and suggest new approaches to studying and thinking about breast cancer.

In the first commentary, the authors discuss the conclusiveness of trials that test the benefits and harms of mammography screening and suggest that it may be time for a new kind of study. They contest that the ultimate question for any cancer screening program is whether a reduction in cancer mortality really leads to and results in saved lives. Present trials do not show tenable evidence that mammography screening programs reduce overall mortality.

In the second commentary, the author suggests that the CNBSS report should help to restructure the issue of breast cancer to include discussion of prevention. The author suggests that we begin to look at screening in a more limited way and focus also on making lifestyle changes that are connected to a reduced risk for breast cancer.

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