Current Issues in the Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment of Breast Cancer

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2018 Feb;210(2):285-291. doi: 10.2214/AJR.17.18629. Epub 2017 Nov 1.


Objective: The discovery of breast cancer at earlier stages with screening brings the risk that some cancers will be overdiagnosed or overtreated. Reasonable estimates show the overdiagnosis rate due to screening mammography to be low, 1-10%.

Conclusion: Overdiagnosis should not be used as a reason to delay the onset or decrease the frequency of screening, because neither strategy will decrease overdiagnosis. Improvements in personalized treatment will diminish the morbidity of treatment and, therefore, the significance of overdiagnosis.

Keywords: breast cancer; breast cancer diagnosis; overdiagnosis; overtreatment; screening mammography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Mass Screening*
  • Medical Overuse*