London Breast Cancer Expert comments on misleading breast cancer screening advice

Kefah Mokbel Lead Surgeon at the London Breast Institute says the letter published in the British Medical Journal regarding breast cancer screening lacks scientific accuracy. "The letter recently published in the BMJ (Baum et al, Feb 2009) and widely circulated in the national media in the UK regarding breast cancer screening lacks objectivity and scientific accuracy.

The letter is characterised by a biased selection of evidence from the scientific literature in order to underestimate the benefit of breast cancer screening by at least four times. It is very unlikely that such a publication has been subjected to a thorough peer-reviewing process. Although we agree that some (approximately 40%) DCIS (non-invasive) lesions may not progress to invasive cancer during lifetime however we currently have no scientific test that can accurately identify these lesions. We therefore recommend treatment for all non-invasive tumours detected by screening. The overall evidence undoubtedly demonstrates that breast cancer screening significantly reduces the probability of dying from breast cancer. Women aged 40 years and older should continue to participate in breast cancer screening programs on an informed basis in line with The American Cancer Society recommendations".

Prof Kefah Mokbel, Professor of Breast Cancer Surgery, Lead Surgeon at the London Breast Institute.

Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
a general term to cover any abnormality such as a wound, infection, abscess or tumour. Full medical glossary
Any test or technique that does not involve penetration of the skin. The term 'non-invasive' may also describe tumours that do not invade surrounding tissues. Full medical glossary
A way to identify people who may have a certain condition, among a group of people who may or may not seem to Full medical glossary
An abnormal swelling. Full medical glossary