Weighing Potential Harms and Benefits of Screening in Breast Cancer

A systematic review looked to available evidence on the connection between mammogram screening and clinical breast exams at various ages and intervals with breast cancer mortality, overdiagnosis, false-positive biopsy findings, life expectancy, and quality-adjusted life expectancy. Investigators searched through medical databases for randomized clinical trials, systematic reviews, and observational and modeling studies published after January 1, 2000. In women with a first mammography screening at the age of 40, the estimated 10-year cumulative risk of false-positive biopsy was greater for annual vs biennial screening. No direct evidence was seen for extra mortality benefit in connection with the addition of clinical breast exams to mammography; however, observational evidence has suggested growth in false-positive results vs mammography alone.


Myers ER, Moorman P, Gierisch JM, et al. Benefits and Harms of Breast Cancer Screening: A Systematic Review [published correction appears in JAMA. 2016 Apr 5;315(13):1406]. JAMA. 2015;314(15):1615-1634. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13183

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