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Int J Epidemiol. 1989 Jun;18(2):295-9.

Evaluation of overdiagnosis of breast cancer in screening with mammography: results of the Nijmegen programme.

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Department of Epidemiology, Nijmegen University, The Netherlands.


After 12 years of screening for breast cancer in Nijmegen (1975-86), during which period six mammographic examination rounds were carried out, the extent of overdiagnosis was evaluated. Overdiagnosis is defined as a histologically established diagnosis of invasive or intraductal breast cancer that would never have developed into a clinically manifest tumour during the patient's normal life expectancy if no screening examination had been carried out. The whole 12-year period shows an excess of 11% of breast cancer cases in Nijmegen, compared with the neighbouring city of Arnhem, where no mass screening was performed. The incidence of breast cancers in Nijmegen in the period 1975-78 is higher, compared with the incidence rates in Arnhem; the rate ratio is 1.30. For the time-intervals 1979-82 and 1983-86 the rate ratios are 1.03 and 1.01 respectively with (0.89; 1.18) and (0.86; 1.16) as 95% confidence intervals. This leads to the conclusion that there is no evidence that screening programmes using modern mammography constitute a significant risk for overdiagnosis of breast cancers.

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