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Recent Breast Screening Controversy (or not)

The letter published in the 29th January 2009 edition of the BMJ: “Breast screening: the facts – or maybe not”, not only reflects poorly on the publication, but is also an unfortunate attempt to revisit a view point many times already discredited by world opinion and the wider scientific community. Information provided to women regarding breast screening should be accurate and agreed, but to replace it with the claim that early detection of 45 women with breast cancer benefits only one of them defies logic as well as scientific evidence.

In 2002 the International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed similar claims and disagreed with the findings and flawed selection of material employed by the Cochrane Group. (IARC Press 2002).

The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammography for women over the age of 40, and has seen no evidence to rescind that advice. As 40% of breast cancers detected each year at the London Breast Institute occur in women under the age of 50, it would be misleading indeed to suggest that this advice be ignored.

Dr Nick Perry, Clinical Director, London Breast Institute

Professor Kefah Mokbel, Lead Breast Surgeon, London Breast Institute