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Breast screening may lead to unnecessary cancer treatment

mammogram machine

Experts have warned that some women may undergo unnecessary cancer treatment after attending breast screening appointments.

Women between the ages of 50 and 70 are invited for breast screening every three years in England, Wales and Scotland, and the programme is currently being extended to cover women aged 47 to 73.

However, a group of doctors, surgeons, academics and health specialists has written a letter to the Times in which they express grave concerns about the potential harmfulness of screening.

The experts claim that up to half of all cancers and pre-cancerous lesions which are detected via breast screening would not actually harm a woman during her natural lifetime.

They are concern that these women may be "subjected to the unnecessary traumas of surgery, radiotherapy and perhaps chemotherapy, as well as suffer the potential for serious social and psychological problems".

However, the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer has defended the breast screening programme, insisting that it saves the lives of over 1,400 women every year.

Chief executive Jeremy Hughes added that any public debate over breast screening could lead to a dangerous fall in take-up.

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Cancer treatment news : 21/02/2009