The Edinburgh randomised trial of screening for breast cancer: description of method

Br J Cancer. 1984 Jul;50(1):1-6. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1984.132.


Edinburgh was selected as one of the centres in the UK Seven-year Trial of Breast Screening of women aged 45-65 which began in 1979. Subsequently, our study was extended to a randomised trial with its own control population within the city. Half the practices were randomly allocated for screening, giving a cluster sampling of women. The total number in the trial is 65,000. Women with previously diagnosed breast cancer are excluded. Women allocated for screening are invited to the clinic and screened according to the procedures specified in the U.K. protocol, having clinical examination every year and mammography on alternate years. The two modalities of screening are assessed independently and the role of nurses is being evaluated. Breast cancer incidence is monitored by pathology register and the local cancer registry office and deaths from the General Register office. Long-term follow-up will be obtained through flagging at NHS Central Register. To determine the value of screening, standard statistical methods will be used to compare breast cancer mortality rates in the whole of the screening population with that of the controls. This trial has a power of 83% of detecting a reduction in mortality of 35% after 7 years of follow-up and a power of 95% of detecting a similar reduction at 10 years (alpha = 0.05, one-sided test).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening* / methods
  • Random Allocation
  • Registries
  • Scotland
  • Statistics as Topic