By Steven Reinberg
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Based upon a report by Danish researchers published in the January 8, 2000 issue of The Lancet, which concluded that "screening for breast cancer with mammography is unjustified," an editorial board that advises the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is questioning the value of mammography in cancer prevention.
The board, known as the P.D.Q., is an independent panel sponsored by the NCI and is made up of experts inside and outside NCI, Dr. Peter Greenwald, Director of Cancer Prevention at the NCI, told Reuters Health.
The P.D.Q. looked at the Lancet report, which questioned the quality of some of the mammography trials, particularly those done in Denmark and Sweden, and is considering incorporating its findings into their recommendations, Dr. Greenwald said. (see Reuters Health report January 7, 2000).
"I think that the Lancet report does raise some uncertainty about selected studies, but this does not mean that the results of the trials are wrong. It just means that we are less confident about them," Dr. Greenwald stressed.
The P.D.Q. report will be carefully considered by NCI as it evaluates mammography-screening guidelines, Dr. Greenwald said. "We want to see exactly what the P.D.Q. says, and then we want to make a judgment about it in the context of the totality of the evidence. We look on their report as an expert view to take into account as we develop policies."
"Developing guidelines is a meticulous process that takes consideration of a lot of people inside and outside of government, and we would not jump at anything too quickly," he added.