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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19619

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Gøtzsche PC, Jørgensen KJ
The Breast Screening Programme and misinforming the public
JRSM 2011 Sep; 104:(9):361-369


The information provided to the public by the NHS Breast Screening Programme has been criticized for lack of balance, omission of information on harms and substantially exaggerated estimates of benefit. These shortcomings have been particularly evident in the various invitation leaflets for breast screening and in the Programme’s own 2008 Annual Review, which celebrated 20 years of screening. The debate on screening has been heated after new data published in the last two years questioned the benefit and documented substantial harm. We therefore analysed whether the recent debate and new pivotal data about breast screening has had any impact on the contents of the new 2010 leaflet and on the 2010 Annual Review. We conclude that spokespeople for the Programme have stuck to the beliefs about benefit that prevailed 25 years ago. Concerns about over-diagnosis have not been addressed either and official documents still downplay this most important harm of breast cancer screening.


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