By TLB Contributor and Saff: Zine Larbaoui
In this day and age, many are wondering about the value of life. Is life a statistic? Very much so if you are subject to the merchants of death, of which the pharmaceutical industry is filled. Is life a commodity? Very much so if you are subject to financial repression.
Why life becomes a losing game is directly related to milking the cash cow at any cost and repressing any new scientific breakthroughs that pose dangers to making money. Greed remains the seed of Man’s destruction.
Before being implemented in many Western countries, mammography screening for breast cancer had been evaluated in controlled trials in the 60s and 80s with positive results, a decrease in breast cancer mortality of 15 to 25 percent among women 50 to 69 years.
But that was 35 years ago and breast cancer treatments have evolved. In an effort to assess whether this ancestral screening continues to be of interest to women or rather subjects them to an increased risk of over-diagnosis, as had been suggested by recent studies, Canadian scientists published the results of a study which shall prevail because of its randomization, the extensive use of mammography (5 per year), the compliance of patients and duration of follow-up – 25 years. This is a masterful study that addresses the question of the value of mammography screening for breast cancer.
In the US, screening for breast cancer continues as a priority for the Health Dept. but which remains oblivious to these recent studies and their implications. Mammography employs and occupies a considerable number of staff and centers dedicated to this “dinosaur” and acts now very much as a barrier to the evolution of scientific thought and action. Never has any scientific study worthy of its name evaluated the usefulness of this screening in the West, despite the vast sums invested in the activity and marketing.
Canadian scientists followed 89,835 women for 25 years. 50,000 were between 40 and 49, 40,000 between 50 and 59 years. They were separated into two groups; one that followed a program of regular mammograms ( 4 per year) with medical examination, the other group had only annual examinations by a doctor . All women received training in self- detection by palpation.
During these 25 years, 1190 breast cancers were detected; 666 were detected in the mammography group and 524 in the control group. Out of 666, 484 were by X-ray of the breast. Mammography detected cancers 1.91 inches in diameter on average, while the manually detected cancers in the other group were on average 2.1 centimeters in diameter.
During these 25 years, 9,477 women died from all causes, with no difference between the two groups. If 1005 women died due to breast cancer, mortality from breast cancer was similar for both groups. Therefore mammography allowed no benefit in terms of reducing mortality for women younger than 50 years or women under 60 years of age. However, scientists have highlighted other anomalies; indeed, if mammography does not save lives, it can however have negative consequences: an excess of 142 breast cancers were detected by mammography compared to the manual detection (666 vs 524). There were therefore 22 percent of cancers detected in excess, one for 424 women screened.
These results not only demonstrate the ineffectiveness of mammography in reducing mortality, but also the risk of over-diagnosis to which women are exposed. These conclusions were arrived at in two studies published in 2010 (Kalager et al) and 2011 (Autier et al). This is the third study which strongly posits these findings and now makes them undeniable.
To continue on the path of mammography voluntarily exposes women to unnecessary risks with no observable benefit while incurring significant financial expenses. Consequently, the authors of the study call for people in charge of public health in western countries to look URGENTLY into their mammography screening policies.
See more great/pertinent articles on this site: www.bmj.com