SABCS: Mammography Benefit Disparities Due to Denominators

Considerable reduction in disparities when estimates are standardized to common scenario

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 11, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Apparent disparities between different reviews on the benefit of mammography screening on breast cancer mortality are mainly due to different denominators, according to a study presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 10 to 14 in San Antonio.

Robert A. Smith, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues reviewed apparent disparities between different reviews on the effects of mammography screening on breast cancer mortality and overdiagnosis. The reviews included the U.K. Independent Review, the Nordic Cochrane review, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force review, and the European Screening Network review.

The authors note that there was an almost 20-fold range in the estimated number needed to screen/invite to prevent one death from breast cancer, from 111 to 2,000. After conversion of all four reviews to pertain to the scenario used in the U.K. Independent Review (effect of screening from age 50 to 69 on breast cancer mortality in those aged 55 to 79, in a U.K. population), the absolute benefits range was reduced to 2.5-fold.

"We hope these findings reassure clinicians and the public that there is little question about the effectiveness of mammography screening, which should continue to play a very important role in our efforts to prevent deaths from breast cancer," Smith said in a statement.

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