Mass routine mammogram screening for breast cancer hasn’t saved any lives – even though the death rate from the cancer has been steadily declining since 1972, long before mammography was introduced.
Mass screening has been introduced in most developed countries at an enormous cost, and with the expectation that it would reduce the deaths from breast cancer by up to 30 per cent.
Yet when researchers compared the take-up of the screening programmes to mortality rates, they discovered no benefit whatsoever. In fact, deaths from breast cancer have been falling steadily since 1972, and have continued to fall at the same rate ever since. This has not been affected by mammogram screening, which reached its peak in 1997.
Researchers from the International Prevention Research Institute based their research on breast cancer death rates and screening levels in Sweden from 1972 to the present day, but a similar picture can be drawn for most developed nations.
“It seems paradoxical that the downward trends in breast cancer mortality have evolved practically as if screening had never existed”, said one researcher.