Quality in Primary Care Open Access

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Breast cancer screening: an ethical dilemma, or an opportunity for openness?

Mitzi Blennerhassett

The NHS Breast Screening Programme was hailed as a life-saver when it was set up, but research has raised concerns about efficacy and levels of harm. The honesty and adequacy of screening information was challenged: proof of the ‘1400 lives a year saved’ claim was not offered and some serious harms were not mentioned. The report of the independent review of breast screening exposed grave concerns, but brought more controversy. Doctors, patients and the doctor/patient relationship may be adversely affected.