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Deaths from breast cancer fall in Europe
Date:3/20/2014

rs at an earlier stage, and the number of breast cancers that have already metastasised in distant organs when first diagnosed has not decreased. Hence these reductions in size simply represent the increasing incidence of small, early, non life-threatening cancers that are detected by screening and which give an overall impression that things are getting better in terms of outcomes. As a result, we can say that decreased numbers of breast cancer deaths are largely due to improved treatments, not to screening."

Reductions in mortality from breast cancer were greatest in women of less than 50 years of age, with overall reductions of -71.3% to -21.4%, and smallest in women aged 70 and over (from -29.5 to + 81.5), with breast cancer mortality among older women continuing to increase in many countries, particularly those in central and eastern Europe. This can be mainly ascribed to the under-treatment, which is common among older women with breast cancer, the researchers say.

"Our study shows the value of using mortality rates to measure success in controlling cancer. Although survival rates can also be used for this purpose, they tend to cloud the true picture by being influenced by trends in cancer incidence," says Prof Autier. "In countries where there is much screening and thus where many small non-life-threatening breast cancers are found, survival statistics will also be better than in countries where screening is less common, not because of differences in breast cancer mortality, but because of differences in the incidence of small screen-detected cancers.

"However, we still need to figure out precisely why France, which has a highly organised screening programme, the highest spending on cancer drugs in Europe, and is at the forefront of the use of new treatments, has seen such a modest decrease in breast cancer mortality. Sweden, too, has devoted considerable resources to screening but has shown little change in mortality rates only
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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