Surely we shall see some progress on proper information about breast screening soon?
From this week’s BMJ: basically, improvements in breast cancer treatment, not access to breast screening, can explain improvements in mortality from the disease.
This is important information for women who are deciding whether or not to have breast screening. As I’ve said before, the main problem is that women don’t realise they have a choice – they often feel that there is no real ‘choice’ and it’s simply a test that they should do.
Colleagues including Prof Mike Baum, and myself co-signed a letter which was published in the Times at the weekend calling for an independent review; I think a NICE review is essential. Mike has written a good piece today following this up in the Guardian.
We have to start being more honest with people about the hazards of screening rather than just the potential benefits. At the moment people get information designed to persuade them to accept screening, not to make an adult informed choice. This is a core GMC duty of a doctor, quite apart from anything else. This subject is at the heart of what the book will be about, out in Jan.