“In life as in nature, what’s good for the bee, is good for the hive”

Switzerland Has Abolished Mammography Screening – Just Like Clockwork

May 7, 2017

There is a timeless accuracy about ideas uttered by the Swiss.  Precise and cool being ‘hallmarks’ of their National traits, just as innovation escapes oh so slowly out of their labs and lathes.  Last year they joined a growing call to stop harmful breast screening – not so much a call but an abolition of their national breast screening programme.  Their research mirrored the 30 year Danish breast study of screened versus unscreened ladies, in which, the unscreened live longer.  Yes, you have read that right.  Cochrane Collaboration founder, Dr Peter C. Gøtzsche brought the Danish experience to light in 2011, supporting similar study evidence of screening over-diagnosis throughout Europe.  No mere casual observer, Dr Gøtzsche is also the author of Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies and Controversy.

Some, personally favouring breast removal, are hopefully looking beyond relative risk, to absolute risk statistics, while making that painfully hard choice.  But, while attending the European Congress of Radiology in Vienna in 2013, I heard the ‘expert’ view that breast screening was “53% accurate”.  So what about the other 47% we may ask?  Is either figure actually accurate?  Just where is the accuracy benchmark – with some also saying that DCIS (Duct Carcinoma In Situ) shouldn’t be called a carcinoma at all.  It’s not just the Doctors who may need better training, we the patient, need to ask better informed questions.  Perhaps, to quote a young Manx Doctor “we are disease mongers” – such an observation and direct expression of youth might well hit the nail.

Normally I like to end with a quip, but some subjects make that just too difficult to be so blasé.  But let’s be honest if some of the science doesn’t stand scrutiny and the screening harms evidence has been conveniently buried over decades – then the guys responsible should feel more than an utter tit.