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Experts question IARC report saying benefits of mammography in older women outweigh risks

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3156 (Published 09 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3156
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Experts are questioning a summary report on breast screening developed by a panel for the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer that concluded that the benefits of mammography outweighed the risks in women aged 50-74.1 Critics consider that the summary, published ahead of the main report, failed to take account of bias and confounding factors in some screening studies and that the panel’s membership did not reflect varying views on the value of breast screening.

The agency’s report, summarised in the New England Journal of Medicine last week,2 said that its conclusions represented the consensus of a panel of 29 invited experts after they discussed preliminary evaluations of available evidence developed by subgroups. It reported that the group found “sufficient” evidence that mammography reduced mortality from breast cancer in women aged 50-69 years of age and in women aged 70-74 years.

But one member of the panel, Anthony Miller, emeritus professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, was concerned that the report did not …

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