A case-control study of the impact of the East Anglian breast screening programme on breast cancer mortality

Br J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;98(1):206-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604123. Epub 2007 Dec 4.


Although breast cancer screening has been shown to work in randomised trials, there is a need to evaluate service screening programmes to ensure that they are delivering the benefit indicated by the trials. We carried out a case-control study to investigate the effect of mammography service screening, in the NHS breast screening programme, on breast cancer mortality in the East Anglian region of the UK. Cases were deaths from breast cancer in women diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70 years, following the instigation of the East Anglia Breast Screening Programme in 1989. The controls were women (two per case) who had not died of breast cancer, from the same area, matched by date of birth to the cases. Each control was known to be alive at the time of death of her matched case. All women were known to the breast screening programme and were invited, at least once, to be screened. There were 284 cases and 568 controls. The odds ratio (OR) for risk of death from breast cancer in women who attended at least one routine screen compared to those who did not attend was 0.35 (CI: 0.24, 0.50). Adjusting for self-selection bias gave an estimate of the breast cancer mortality reduction associated with invitation to screening of 35% (OR=0.65, 95% CI: 0.48, 0.88). The effect of actually being screened was a 48% breast cancer mortality reduction (OR=0.52, 95% CI: 0.32, 0.84). The results suggest that the National Breast Screening Programme in East Anglia is achieving a reduction in breast cancer deaths, which is at least consistent with the results from the randomised controlled trials of mammographic screening.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / ethnology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology