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Cancer Research UK’s response to the breast screening review

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by Cancer Research UK | News

30 October 2012

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Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “The independent review shows screening saves lives.

“Screening remains one of the best ways to spot the very early signs of breast cancer, at a stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

“Yet, as the review shows, some cancers will be diagnosed and treated that would never have caused any harm. Clearly, everyone wants to minimise this.

“But because we can’t yet tell which cancers are harmful and which are not, we cannot predict what will happen in an individual woman’s case.

“We think it’s vitally important for women to have access to clear information about breast screening, the balance of benefits and harms and the fact that they could be diagnosed with and treated for a cancer that might not cause them harm.

“So, on balance, taking all the evidence into account, Cancer Research UK recommends that women go for breast screening when invited.
“Research is advancing at pace and we hope that in the future there will be a number of new techniques that we can use alongside the screening programme to make it more sophisticated and reduce the numbers of women having unnecessary treatment.

“Until this is possible, we’d recommend women who have had something unusual picked up through screening to seek full advice and discuss all possible options with their breast cancer specialist team.

“We urge the screening programme to update the breast screening information leaflet in the light of the findings of the independent review.”

More information:

  • A press release from the Independent Breast Screening Review panel (PDF) 
  • More information about the Independent Breast Screening Review and its findings
  • A Q&A for women considering breast screening
  • A detailed infographic summarising the findings
  • Blog post: How can we improve breast screening?