France proposes radical changes to their national breast screening programme based on Cochrane evidence

Recently, France has conducted an independent review of their breast screening programme and the Steering Committee concluded that the programme should either be terminated or strongly reformed. A trio of leading experts within mammography screening, Vice Director Karsten Juhl Jørgensen from our centre, Professor Alexandra Barratt from the University of Sydney and Professor Philippe Autier from the International Prevention Research Institute, France published a viewpoint article about this reform initiative for Jama Internal Medicine on 30th October 2017. Their article summarises the reform process in France, and also gives some comparative insights into how mammography screening recommendations differ in various countries.

Mammography Screening: What does the evidence say?

The issue of overdiagnosis with mammography screening has been well documented for many years. The Nordic Cochrane Centre published a cohort study in 2016 looking into the ramifications of mammography screening in Danish women. The study concluded that there is a substantial risk of overdiagnosis, supporting the need for the Danish breast screening programme to be re-evaluated.

In 2013, we also updated a Cochrane review, which was included in the French review that found the same risk of substantial overdiagnosis amongst women in a screening programme.  

The French re-evaluation of their national mammography programme is the third independent review of breast screening in Europe with other European countries also conducting reviews concluding that breast screening leads to substantial overdiagnosis, and that patient information on breast screening should be more transparent and neutral.

If you would like more information on mammography screening to make an informed decision on whether to attend screening or not, you can read our mammography screening information leaflet. The leaflet is available on our website and has been translated into 17 languages.