Letters Breast cancer screening review

A truly independent review is needed

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7538 (Published 22 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7538
  1. Malcolm E Kendrick, general practitioner1
  1. 1Central and Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust, Middlewich CW10 0QJ, UK
  1. malcolmken{at}doctors.org.uk

Richards clearly believes that breast cancer screening is of great benefit.1 Harpal Kumar, the joint chair of the future independent review committee, has stated, “Screening saves lives, so it’s extremely worrying to see that the percentage of women going for breast screening is dropping. Mammograms pick up the very early signs of breast cancer when it’s much easier to treat and when treatment is usually successful. This trend must be reversed. If there were 100 per cent attendance at breast screening, hundreds more lives could be saved.”2

We therefore have two highly influential and powerful people who are in favour of breast screening. They will be co-chairs of this important review, which will decide on the benefits, or otherwise, of breast cancer screening.

They will also choose the other members of the review team, with an important exclusion criterion: “We are seeking independent advisers for this review who have never previously published on the topic of breast cancer screening.” So anybody who has published anything critical of the breast screening programme will be excluded.

There is already a massive danger that this review will be biased in one direction (conflicts of interest are not just financial). I would ask that a truly independent review is put together that represents all points of view.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7538


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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