To determine whether the headline “Mammography screening reduces mortality rates from breast cancer” that
I read in the newspaper was true or not, I used Pubmed as a resource and I
discovered two published articles that helped me to make an informed decision
on the question at hand. Both articles that I found were original studies
concluding that mammography screening does in fact reduce the mortality rates
of women with breast cancer. One of the articles, “Effect of Screening Mammography
on Breast-Cancer Mortality in Norway”, collected data from over 40,000 women
with breast cancer from 1986 to 2005. Divided into four groups, two of which
had mammography screening every 2 years and two without any mammography
screening, the researchers found that there was a 10% decrease in mortality
when comparing the groups that were screened versus the groups that were not
screened. The other article I found, “Modern mammography screening and breast
cancer mortality: population study” was a cohort study that was trying to determine
the difference in mortality rates between a group that was invited to
mammography screenings biennially and a group that received no invitation. Data
for this study was collected from 1986 to 2009. Both studies invited women
between the ages of 50 and 69 for mammography screenings. The researchers in
this study found a 28% decrease in mortality due to breast cancer in the group
of women that were invited to mammography screenings.

 

            The
18% discrepancy between the two studies’ decrease in mortality gives red flags
but the fact that the second study, with the 28% decrease in mortality rates
due to mammography screening, adjusted for factors that the first study did not
incorporate such as breast cancer mortality trends, nationality, and birth
cohorts. This adjustment potentially explains why the second study seemed to
have a larger decrease in mortality rates. Both studies had found mortality
rate ratios of 0.72 with 95% confidence intervals which gives the impression
that the data collected was not due to chance and that similar statistics can
be replicated with future studies. The journals that published these articles
have impact factors of 20 (BMJ) and 72 (New England Journal of Medicine) and
both articles were published within the last seven years. Neither is opinionated
or objective and both articles have been peer reviewed. An important note is
that neither study researched women under the age of 50. As a result, I would
only recommend mammography screening to those who were inside the age range
provided by both studies. Given all these factors, there is no reason for the
data from either study to be deemed untrustworthy or irrelevant.  Based on the data presented from both studies
and my evaluation of the research conducted, I believe that mammography
screening is effective at reducing breast cancer mortality rates in women aged
50 to 69. 

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