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 Needless cancer therapy for 4,000 women

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PostSubject: Needless cancer therapy for 4,000 women   Tue 30 Oct 2012, 14:28

Needless cancer therapy for 4,000 women: For every life saved by breast screening, three patients undergo unnecessary treatment


  • Nearly all are given aggressive treatments even though they might never have experienced any symptoms during their lifetime
  • Treatments can involve months of agony and have severe impact on life
  • Over 99 per cent of those diagnosed with breast cancer will have surgery
  • Dilemma
    for doctors is that it is not possible to distinguish between those for
    whom disease could be fatal, and those who will never have symptoms



By
Jenny Hope
About 4,000 women each year endure
gruelling, unnecessary treatment for breast cancers that were not
life-threatening, a review has found.
For
every life saved by early detection, three women have therapy they do
not need, according to the most definitive investigation of breast
cancer screening so far.
Nearly
all are given aggressive treatments – including chemotherapy,
radiotherapy or having a breast removed – even though they might never
have experienced any symptoms during their lifetime because their
cancers were slow growing or non-aggressive.




Unnecessary: Thousands of women every year have gruelling treatment for breast cancers they do not need

These treatments can involve months of agony and have a severe impact on a woman’s quality of life.
Over
99 per cent of those diagnosed with breast cancer will have surgery; of
which 25 per cent will have a mastectomy and 75 per cent an operation
to have a lump removed.
At
the same time, 87 per cent of patients are given hormonal drugs that can
cause hot flushes, mood changes and sickness, while 80 per cent have
radiotherapy.

This can cause tiredness for
months and swelling or damage to skin, while a very small number
experience side-effects including damage to the lungs or heart.
One in four has chemotherapy, which commonly causes tiredness, lower immunity, sickness and hair loss.
Although
the study stressed the programme saved around 1,300 lives a year, it
also led to an estimated 4,000 women being ‘overdiagnosed’.

The
dilemma for doctors is that it is not possible to distinguish between
those for whom the disease could be fatal, and women who have cancer
‘under the microscope’ but are unlikely ever to experience symptoms.
The
review concludes that although screening does more good than harm, it
is a closer call than previously thought. It said the programme remains
worthwhile even though less than 0.5 per cent of women screened will
have their life extended in the next 20 years.
However,
the authors stressed that the estimated two million women who undergo
testing each year must be given ‘clear and unbiased’ information about
the pros and cons – something which is currently lacking.



More than 99 per cent of those diagnosed with
breast cancer will have surgery; of which 25 per cent will have a
mastectomy and 75 per cent an operation to have a lump removed


At present, a ‘patronising’ leaflet tells them they could be affected by overdiagnosis – but does not quantify the risk.
The
review, led by public health expert Professor Sir Michael Marmot and
published in the Lancet medical journal, was ordered by the Department
of Health after mounting controversy about whether women were getting
the full picture on breast screening.
A
succession of studies had claimed the programme did not save lives and
could lead to unnecessary treatment for non life-threatening cancers.
It
was brought to a head last year by an open letter from Professor Susan
Bewley, consultant obstetrician at King’s College London, to the
National Cancer Director calling for women to be told of ‘genuine
doubts’ about the programme.
She said NHS leaflets ‘exaggerated benefits and did not spell out the risks’.
Researchers
from the Nordic Cochrane Centre have also repeatedly questioned the
benefits of organised screening, suggesting the dramatic fall in breast
cancer deaths is due to changes in risk factors and improved treatment.
Professor
Sir Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director, said: ‘I welcome the
fact that the review clearly recommends that breast screening should
continue.
‘But the key thing is we communicate this information to women so they can make an informed choice.’
Dr
Harpal Kumar, of charity Cancer Research UK, which jointly commissioned
the review, said: ‘This review shows screening saves lives. We
recommend women go for screening when invited.’
Under
the NHS screening programme, which cost £75million last year, women are
invited for mammograms every three years between the ages of 50 and 70,
although this is set to be extended to include those aged 47 to 73.


Source:-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2225067/Needless-cancer-therapy-4-000-women-For-life-saved-breast-screening-3-patients-undergo-unnecessary-treatment.html
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