Australian expert backs ‘important’ breast screen study

Professor Robin Bell, Deputy Director of the Women’s Health Program at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, said the study was an important contribution to the debate about the efficacy of routine screening.

“There are two sides of the equation with screening, demonstrating a benefit and being mindful of any harm that might be occurring. This study is saying that it cannot demonstrate a benefit… and for women in the over-diagnosis category, the treatment represents harm.”

In the study, 89,835 women aged 40–59 years were randomly assigned to two groups, the first received annual mammograms and physical breast examinations at 15 different screening centres between the years 1980–85. In the control group, women aged 50–59 received annual physical examinations while the women aged 40–49 received a single examination followed by usual care in the community.

During the