By Robin Wulffson MD for eMaxHealth.com
According to a new study, screening mammograms have doubled the number of early-stage breast cancers detected in the United States. However, this has not made much of a difference in the number of breast cancer deaths. Furthermore, up to one-third of all new breast cancer cases are overdiagnosed as a result of screening mammograms. Overdiagnosis refers to a diagnosis that is worse than the actual disease condition that is present. The findings were published on November 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study authors noted that, in order to reduce mortality, screening must detect life-threatening disease at an earlier, more curable stage. Therefore, effective cancer-screening programs both increase the incidence of cancer detected at an early stage and decrease the incidence of cancer presenting at a late stage. The researchers reviewed breast cancer screening in the US by accessing data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data to examine trends from 1976 through 2008 in the incidence of early-stage breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ and localized disease) and late-stage breast cancer (regional and distant disease) among women 40 years of age or older.Whizzco