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Study that supports mammography for women under 50 is criticised

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 09 September 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5460
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

A new study supports breast cancer screening for women under 50 years old, as the researchers say that most deaths from breast cancer occur in younger women who do not receive regular mammograms. But some experts have queried omissions in the study.

Mammography screening remains controversial, with studies showing varying benefits. The NHS breast cancer screening programme routinely invites women over 50 every three years for screening. However, the scheme is in the process of being extended to women from the age of 47.

The latest study, published in the journal Cancer, uses a technique called “failure analysis,” which looks backwards from death to discover correlations at diagnosis instead of looking forwards from the start of a study.1 Only one other failure analysis related to cancer has been published to date.

The researchers looked at 7301 patients with invasive breast cancers diagnosed between 1990 and 1999, who were followed until 2007. Among this group …

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