Experts at HSPH Forum debate effectiveness of mammograms for breast cancer screening

Last fall, Mette Kalager, a surgeon at Oslo University Hospital and a visiting scientist at HSPH, published a controversial study that called into question the benefits of routine mammography screening. She joined other authorities in the field at the latest event from The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health on March 8 to discuss these findings and the disparities in treatment options for women in lower-income nations. Other expert participants included Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general for family and community health for the World Health Organization, Felicia Knaul, director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative and associate professor of social medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Julie Gralow, oncology professor at the University of Washington Medical School. The event was moderated by former Washington Post health editor Abigail Trafford.

Knaul suggested that collective benefits of breast cancer awareness and effective treatment programs may reduce the effectiveness of mammography screening alone as a lifesaver. But it is important to expand screening in the developing world, where fear, stigma, and lack of treatment options make breast cancer one of the deadliest diseases for women, she argued.

Link to Forum video

Link to Harvard Gazette article

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Using Mammography to Screen Women for Breast Cancer May Be Less Effective In Reducing Death Rates Than Previously Estimated (HSPH release)

Newly Recognized Burden of Breast Cancer in Poorer Women Featured in First of Participatory Panels on Public Health Priorities (Harvard Public Health NOW)