Mammograms are validated to have an association with a decrease in breast cancer deaths. “The study, being published today in The New England Journal of Medicine, concludes that 28 to 65 percent of the sharp decrease in breast cancer deaths from 1990 to 2000 was due to mammograms. The rest was attributed to powerful new drugs to treat breast cancer.”

We’ll have the data next for PSA and prostate cancer screening. As it stands, only mammograms and fecal occult blood tests for colon cancer screening are associated with a mortality benefit.

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  • Anonymous

    The report mentioned that screening in general reduced breast cancer mortality by 7-23%, i.e. mammograms vs nothing, not mammograms vs breast exams.

    Yes, I know that studies showed that clinical breast exams don’t add value to mammograms; but I don’t believe that they showed that breast exams don’t add value to nothing. Or did they?
    The only study that specifically compared mammograms to clinical breast exam was CNBSS (1 and 2) and we all know what it showed (or not). There was a lot of criticism of CNBSS, most of which was shown to be unfounded: a) bad radiologist/equivipment – but their detection rate was better than in other trials b) too many women with cancer allocated to trial arm – but their early exess of breast cancers mirrors that of other trials.
    At any rate 7-23% desease-specific relative reduction of mortality is not huge in absolute numbers; and if you take 30% overdiagnosis – a number mentioned in this report, an all-cause mortality from unnecessary treatment can easily exceed it.
    Just a humble opinion.