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Oncol Rev. 2011 Sep 1;5(3):143-147.

A limited Review of Over Diagnosis Methods and Long Term Effects in Breast Cancer Screening.

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Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, School of Public Health and Information Sciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.


Breast cancer screening programs have been effective in detecting tumors prior to symptoms. Recently, there has been concern over the issue of over-diagnosis, that is, diagnosis of a breast cancer that does not manifest prior to death. Estimates for over-diagnosis vary, ranging from 7% to 52%. This variability may be due partially to issues associated with bias and/or incorrect inferences associated with the lack of probability modeling. A critical issue is how to evaluate the long-term effects due to continued screening. Participants in a periodic screening program can be classified into four mutually exclusive groups depending on whether individuals are diagnosed and whether their symptoms appear prior to death: True-early-detection; No-early-detection; Over-diagnosis; and Not-so-necessary. All initially superficially healthy people will eventually fall into one of these four categories. This manuscript reviews the major methodologies associated with the over-diagnosis and long-term effects of breast cancer screening.

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