Screening for breast cancer "cuts deaths by 40%" according to experts

A multi-national report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has suggested that breast cancer screening can reduce the risk of death by breast cancer by around 40%.1

Breast cancer screening allows doctors to find cases of breast cancer at an early stage when the disease is most treatable.

The report was based on 29 experts from 16 countries, who had examined evidence on breast cancer screening which was carried out in 2002. They found that women aged between 50 and 69 would have more benefit than harm from regular screenings. Evidence in women under 50 was limited, so they were unable to make any conclusions below this age.

The debate about screening is therefore set to continue but in the meantime, it is important that women accept their invitations for breast cancer screening and that they discuss any queries or concerns they have with their doctor or breast screening specialist.

In the UK, women between the ages of 50 and 70 are invited to screening every three years.

Reference:

1 Lauby-Secretan B, Scoccianti C, Loomis D, et al. Breast-Cancer Screening - Viewpoint of the IARC Working Group. The New England Journal of Medicine. Published online June 3 2015

News sources:

Breast cancer screening cuts chance of dying from disease by 40%, say experts. The Guardian, June 3 2015

Breast cancer screening beneficial, scientists reassure. BBC News, June 4 2015

Breast cancer screening cuts deaths by 40 per cent: Analysis of 10 million patients finds regular mammograms saves lives among middle-aged women. Mail Online, June 4 2015