Europe: Mammograms have played an insignificant role in falling breast cancer death rates in Europe, according to a study published Friday.
"I am among those who pushed hard for systematic screening for breast cancer in the 1990s," he added."But now there are question marks and we have to provide answers, because we cannot continue to promote something that may not be very effective but which can lead to a certain number of false positives," where healthy women are diagnosed as having the disease, he said.Not all researchers agree that new data show screening to have been or marginal utility."The improvement in the prognosis of breast cancer patients is a multi-factor phenomenon," said Jerome Viguier, head of detection and screening at France`s National Cancer Institute."It is very difficult to distinguish between different evolutions that are complementary and move in parallel," he told by phone.Viguier also emphasised that reducing mortality -- even if it is the overarching objective of screening -- is not the only impact."The aim is also to intervene earlier in the disease so that treatment is less invasive, with less mutilation, and fewer scares," he said.He also questioned the premise of the new study that the health care systems compared were similar enough to single out systematic screening as the only significant difference.Some experts argue that the difficult decision of whether to screen -- involving trade-offs among non-comparable outcomes -- must be left to informed individuals.Others say that physicians should continue to encourage women to undergo regular screening because even modest benefits trump potentially negative impacts.Bureau Report
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