But Dr Robin Wilson, secretary of the European Group for Breast Cancer Screening, will tell a news briefing (Tuesday 19 March) at the 3rd European Breast Cancer Conference in Barcelona, that even the Cochrane team were concerned about the validity of the Olsen and Gtzsche review, with epidemiologists with knowledge of screening saying that the review itself was flawed.
"Whatever the issues are surrounding the claims and counterclaims about the validity of the trials and the review, the fact is that we have moved on a long way since the randomised trials that contributed to the review. Current evidence based on actual screening outcomes strongly supports its effectiveness," said Dr Wilson. He added that current evidence being presented today at the conferences special day-long session on screening strongly supported its effectiveness.
He said that it was also vital to appreciate that the value of national screening programmes lay not just in their ability to detect breast cancer at an early stage, but also in the role they played in enhancing a countrys overall quality of care.
"When we talk about screening it is important to understand the difference between an organised and co-ordinated programme of population screening, which is concerned with reducing overall breast cancer mortality, and opportunistic screening, which may or may not benefit the individual women who accept," said Dr Wilson, who is Clinical Director of Breast Services in Nottingham, UK.
He said that a structured programme had a range of beneficial side-effects, which included the concentration of specialist multi-disciplinary expert teams
Contact: Margaret Willson
Federation of European Cancer Societies