Study finds mammograms don't reduce death
Scientists at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom say their analysis of 40 years of breast-cancer screenings showed no evidence that mammograms reduced the number of deaths from the condition. The findings counter another study published in The Lancet just last year that concluded that patients who received mammogram screenings had a 20 percent lower risk of breast cancer death.
For the recent study, the Oxford team analyzed mortality statistics before and after 1988, the year that the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme began in the United Kingdom. They looked at breast cancer deaths in the Oxford region, as those were the only British records that included all causes of death on death certificates, as opposed to just the underlying cause. They compared the death rates in that region to England as a whole, and found no evidence of a population-wide mortality decrease associated with mammograms.
The study authors also wrote that evaluating the effectiveness of screening was difficult, given the enormous improvements in treatment and technology over the past 20 years.
While the authors of the study did not rule out that breast screening may be beneficial for individuals, they believe that’s not the case for the overall population. In 2012, however, a Dutch study concluded that although treatments have improved, population-based mammography still saves lives.