Breast cancer screening does not benefit most women: health council

Just a quarter of the women who discover they have breast cancer during the annual screening live longer because the disease has been identified, the Dutch health council says in a new report.

In all other cases, the women may know earlier that they have cancer but do not otherwise benefit from the screening, the council is quoted as saying by the Volkskrant.

Every year one million women in the Netherlands aged 50 to 75 undergo screening for breast cancer at a cost of €64m. In 2012, 6,300 of them were found to have the disease.

Nevertheless, the council says it is not advocating an end to the screening programme because the ‘advantages outweigh the disadvantages’. On average the screening prevents 775 deaths a year, the council said. It is recommending the health ministry improve the process in some areas.

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