Danish researchers say a re-analysis of their controversial study of a year ago confirms their original conclusions — that there is no evidence that breast-cancer screening with mammography saves women’s lives.
When the original report was published last year in The Lancet, it garnered widespread criticism from breast cancer experts who questioned the researchers’ reasoning and conclusions. So researchers re-analyzed their data according to the protocol of an international organization that has established rigorous standards for conducting and publishing research reviews.
But their conclusion about mammography remains the same.
According to the researchers flawed methods have troubled studies that have indicated mammography saves women’s lives by catching breast cancer early. Out of eight studies they reviewed, they deem only two to be of good quality.
And those two trials suggested that mammograms have made no dent in breast cancer deaths.
In their original study, the researchers cited problems with the way many mammography trials have been conducted — including imbalances in terms of the women’s ages and other factors that they charge skewed the study results in favor of mammography.
Based on the current report, Lancet editor, Richard Horton, concludes that “at present, there is no reliable evidence from large randomized trials to support screening mammography programs.”
The Lancet October 20, 2001;358:1340-1342,1284-1285
COMMENT: Although there is no evidence that mammography saves lives, that is exactly what everyone is led to believe. In addition to breast examinations, we would hope that the less dangerous and less invasive practice of THERMOGRAPHY will become more widespread and readily available.