Should we scrap our most used breast cancer screening tool? There’s hot debate as one nation decides.

A dispute has emerged in Switzerland following the Swiss Medical Board’s recommendation to halt the country’s breast cancer mammography screening program. According to the board, although the screening saves 1-2 women’s lives for every 1,000 screened, it also leads to unnecessary investigations and treatment for around 100 women in every 1,000.

Mammography, a type of X-ray used to detect breast abnormalities, is widely advocated as a life-saving measure. Many wealthy countries have adopted it as a primary strategy to combat breast cancer.


However, concerns arose after the Canadian National Breast Screening Study found no benefits from such a program. A recent analysis of this study compared the incidence of breast cancer and deaths from the disease over a 25-year period in thousands of women aged 40 to 59. The study, which began with women randomly assigned to either undergo or not undergo mammography screening, found no difference in mortality between the two groups. However, overdiagnosis in the mammography group was significant.

As a result of this and other studies, the Swiss medical board took the pioneering step of recommending that mass mammography screening should be abolished.