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BreastScreen Victoria statement: Release of Canadian research on mammography

BreastScreen Victoria continues to recommend that women, particularly those aged 50-69, remain vigilant in having their regular breast screen every two years.

This statement is in response to recent reports on a Canadian study questioning the benefits of breast screening.

BreastScreen Victoria CEO, Vicki Pridmore says that this study is one element and one point of view in a growing pool of research into the benefits and limitations of screening mammography.

‘We always welcome new research and any medical advances that improve the detection and treatment of breast cancer, particularly that which can provide more specific information about the benefits and risks,’

‘But for now, we point to current evidence that still recommends a breast screen every two years as the most effective way to detect breast cancers early, particularly in women aged 50-69, and which we know combined with treatment gives women the best chance of a positive outcome,’ said Ms Pridmore.

Ms Pridmore says that the research question over which cancers would go on to be life threatening and those which may not has not yet been answered.

‘Unfortunately, at this time, there is no accurate way to know which cancers will go on to threaten life, so the decision for treatment is a personal one for each woman,’

Ms Pridmore concurs with statements from Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, who has pointed out major differences between the Canadian and Australian contexts.

According to Professor Olver, ‘The Canadian study found no mortality benefit for women aged 40 to 59 undergoing annual mammograms. However, evidence shows mammography as a screening tool is most beneficial for women aged 50 and over, undertaken every two years. So you are comparing apples with oranges if you try to apply conclusions from the Canadian study to Australia, where mammography is appropriately targeted through the BreastScreen Australia program.’.

According to Ms Pridmore, a research study has recently commenced between BreastScreen Western Australia and the University of Melbourne, looking into overdiagnosis in the Australian context.

It is important that women understand all information available so they can make informed decisions about their health. Women are encouraged to speak to their GP or see the latest recommendations for breast screening on the Cancer Australia website or BreastScreen Australia.

For Cancer Council Victoria statement please see: http://www.cancer.org.au/news/media-releases/screening-mammography-saves-lives.html

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