Community breast cancer screening comes up short

September 1, 2005

Performing community-based screening for breast cancer may have no clear effect on reducing the rate of fatalities attributed to the disease, according to a study published in the July 20 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Performing community-based screening for breast cancer may have no clear effect on reducing the rate of fatalities attributed to the disease, according to a study published in the July 20 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The findings keep alive the debate surrounding breast cancer screening. In the last installment, a randomized controlled trial from Danish researchers showed that screening significantly reduces breast cancer mortality. But the JNCI study argues that most recommendations are based on data produced in carefully controlled studies and not in community-based screening.

Although the investigators at the University of Washington in Seattle observed a 26% reduction in mortality among women at increased risk, they found that figure was statistically insignificant. There was no appreciable association between breast cancer mortality and screening history regardless of age or risk level, they said.