A woman receives a mammogram at the Naval Medical Center San Diego Breast Health Center. Photo by U.S. Navy/Joseph Moon/Wikimedia Commons Catching some cancers early on can save lives, but we rarely hear about how cancer screening might not be meeting our expectations.
This idea - that some screening might not help all patients - has received much attention, and a recent study in the British Medical Journal supports the notion that breast cancer screening may not reduce mortality.
Scientists pose the question: Is early screening driving a reduction in breast cancer mortalities or can fewer deaths be attributed to access to better health services and treatments?
After examining World Health Organization data from three pairs of neighboring European countries that implemented breast screening programs at different times, researchers studied the relationship between screening services offered and cancer mortality.
Data gathered from these countries between 1989 and 2006 showed that neighboring country pairs with similar breast cancer rates and access to health care did not differ much when it came to patient mortality from the condition. Countries that put forward screening programs earlier did not see fewer deaths when compared to countries that created programs later.