IARC not to include mammography for women below 50 years in handbookWomen Health

February 05, 2016 13:16
IARC not to include mammography for women below 50 years in handbook},{IARC not to include mammography for women below 50 years in handbook

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The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). When IARC publishes its breast cancer screening handbook in 2016, it will not include mammography for women less than 50 years of age.

Mammography is the popular screening technique for women to identify breast cancer. Mammography gained global popularity even in India. Now, WHO recommends mammography for women aged more than 50 years. Scientific evidence says that it effectively reduces breast cancer mortality for women in the age-group of 50–69. Its efficacy is limited in the younger age band of 40-49.  The benefit of reduced mortality extends to women screened at age 70–74.

Tata Memorial Hospital preventive oncology head Surendra Shastri said, “If you look at all the published evidence, except mammography, no other screening has worked and mammography works only for 50-plus women. As a diagnostic tool, it should be offered only to women above the age of 50 or post-menopausal women. With younger women, there could be harm of over-diagnosis and over treatment.” Dr Shastri also heads the WHO Collaborating Division for Cancer Prevention, Screening and Early Detection.

According to Dr. Shastri, women in the lower age groups should conduct self-examination of breast and undergo a clinical breast examination once every year.

In press statement on IARC’s handbook, even WHO states that breast self-examination or clinical breast examination are both inexpensive and simple.

The statement says, “Evaluation of the current literature showed that there is sufficient evidence that clinical breast examination is associated with the detection of smaller and earlier-stage tumours. However, no data were yet available for an evaluation of the effect of this screening technique on breast cancer mortality.”


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