Letters Breast screening

Reality of ductal carcinoma in situ

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b958 (Published 09 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b958
  1. Jane Flanders, former patient1
  1. 1Basingstoke RG25 3HE
  1. janecflanders{at}yahoo.co.uk

    Just over four years ago I accepted my first invitation to attend for mammography breast screening and was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ.

    Briefly, the reality of this diagnosis has been two wide excisions, one partial mutilation (sorry, mastectomy), one reconstruction, five weeks’ radiotherapy (a 60 mile round trip and I had to pay to park), chronic infection at the donor site, four bouts of cellulitis at the donor site, one nipple reconstruction, seven general anaesthetics, and more than a year off work. I am still unable to work more than part time.

    Contrast this with a friend who had “proper” cancer treated by lumpectomy and three weeks’ radiotherapy and who returned to full time work within six months of diagnosis. I also doubt that she had to deal with the “we think you should have a mastectomy” attitude.

    I expect that I have been classified as a screening success. Yet, everything about my experience tells me the opposite. Screening has caused me considerable and lasting harm. It has certainly not saved or prolonged my life, which is the purpose of screening. The whole screening programme needs a complete rethink: rewriting the information leaflet will serve no purpose other than cosmetic.1


    Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b958


    • Competing interests: None declared.