It has not been shown to affect women’s life expectancy overall, but does increase invasive interventions, say Susan Bewley, Nick Ross and Margaret McCartney of HealthWatch
The announcement that thousands missed out on mammography tests caused distress to many women and their families (Report, 4 May). The implication was that they now risked premature death from cancer. In fact, as many experts have been pointing out, mass screening for breast cancer has not been shown to have any impact on women’s life expectancy overall – but it does increase invasive interventions like mastectomy. This is why Prof Mike Baum, one of the first proponents of mass breast-cancer screening, now opposes it, as does the growing consensus among epidemiologists.
If Public Health England thinks otherwise, it should publish its modelled estimates so scientists and statisticians can check them. In the absence of good evidence it was disgraceful to suggest women died needlessly.