We need to talk about breast cancer screening (part 1)

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

Editor note: This week Dr Caroline Shaw and Associate Professor Diana Sarfati consider the pros and cons of breast cancer screening, in light of the growing controversy (mostly in the northern hemisphere) about the possibility that the benefits of breast cancer screening are (much) less than previously thought due to over-detection and other issues. In today’s Part 1 blog, Caroline and Diana outline the issues. In the Part 2 blog (appearing on Thursday), they aim for more specific recommendations.

Dr Caroline Shaw and Associate Professor Diana Sarfati

Breastscreen AotearoaPopulation screening attracts controversy. For breast cancer screening there is an ongoing controversy being played out in the international literature related to the absolute fundamental rationale of screening; should we be screening for breast cancer at all? This is a big deal, given that most developed countries have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the human and technical infrastructure for screening in the last few decades. BreastScreen Aoteroa, for example, costs over $50 million annually. Continue reading