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Breast cancer screening saves lives: Study

Published on Oct 30, 2012 8:19 AM
A patient undergoing mammogram to detect early stages of breast cancer. -- PHOTO: CHANGI GENERAL HOSPITAL

PARIS (AFP) - The benefits of preemptive breast cancer screening outweigh the risks, a study said on Tuesday, insisting the practice saves thousands of lives.

The new research adds to the debate about the dangers of over-diagnosis, which sees some women undergo invasive treatment for cancers that would never have made them ill or even been diagnosed were it not for the scans.

"Breast screening extends lives," concluded a panel of researchers in The Lancet medical journal. The team had analysed data from other trials conducted over many years in Britain, where women aged 50 to 70 are invited for a screening mammogram every three years.

The data, it said, pointed to a 20 per cent reduction in mortality - or one death prevented for every 180 women screened. This meant that the UK screening programmes "probably prevent about 1,300 breast cancer deaths every year," said the report.

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