Screening for breast cancer – methods and their effectiveness
The general principles of screening studies for cancer are described in a separate article on the website. At first glance, breast cancer may seem to be an ideal object of a screening program: it is relatively common (1-2 cases per 1000 women per year) and is available for both the doctor and nursing staff during clinical examination and for self-examination.
Breast cancer is often detected by mammography screening until the onset of clinical signs of the disease. Moreover, groups of increased risk of developing breast cancer are known. These are women with a familial cancer or with a history of benign breast tumors or “elderly primiparous” women.
So far, however, the available results do not unequivocally confirm the enormous amount of data obtained from clinical and mammographic screening studies. Along with the high cost of these studies, it is still unclear how much the curability of breast cancer will increase as a result of the early detection of the disease, although some observations made over 50 years confirm the reduction in the mortality of patients, apparently due to the fact that was diagnosed at an early stage of the disease.
More valuable may be screening studies conducted on groups of women with a high degree of risk. According to the results published in the 1980s, screening examinations are recommended in the UK for the Forrest Report and the United Kingdom. all women aged 50-64 years (age group of high risk).
If we analyze the results obtained for all age groups, so far they are not encouraging. Of particular concern is the feasibility of screening among young women who, according to some data, have lower overall survival compared with the group not undergoing screening examinations. Apparently, this is due to both the more rapid development of the tumor in young patients, and the false secrecy that is characteristic of medical institutions that conduct an examination of cancer patients. Examination of the breast by women themselves is widely practiced and can be repeated many times, but brings little benefit. Unfortunately, the data on this account remain quite contradictory.