Breast screening a lifesaver
The weight of scientific evidence supports mammographic screening as an effective and lifesaving initiative, according to the CEO of Cancer Council Australia, Professor Ian Olver. He was commenting on the irrelevance to Australia of a Canadian study published in the British Medical Journal on 11 February, which showed mammography was no better than physical examination in helping women survive breast cancer.
Professor Olver said that trying to apply conclusions from the Canadian study to Australia, where mammography is appropriately targeted through the BreastScreen Australia program, was like trying compare apples with oranges. He said that, while the Canadian study looked at the results of screening over a five-year period, a more comprehensive review of BreastScreen outcomes conducted over 15 years showed a mortality benefit of between 21 and 30 per cent. He added that the Canadian study was conducted in the 1980s, using technology and procedures that “have no relevance to contemporary Australia”.