Table 2.

Key Characteristics of Four Retrieved POEMs Relevant to Mammography Screening, Decision Making, and Overdiagnosis

POEM Title and DateStudy Design Publication DateClinical QuestionBottom Line
1. Overdiagnosis of breast cancer is common 2013-01-2942Cohort (prospective) 2012What proportion of breast cancer is overdiagnosed?In the past 30 years we have seen a large increase in the detection of early-stage cancers, but little corresponding decline in late-stage cancers. The authors conclude that approximately 1 in 4 breast cancers has been overdiagnosed, and was unlikely to have ever harmed the woman.
2. Numbers to help women understand the benefits/harms of screening mammography 2014-02-144Special Communication 2014What are the trade-offs of benefits and harms for women considering a mammogram to screen for breast cancer?The authors suggest that balanced discussions about the benefits and harms of screening mammography should focus not only on the possibility of breast cancer deaths avoided but also the possibility of false alarms and overdiagnosis (the detection of abnormalities that will never progress enough to cause symptoms or death during a patient’s lifetime). The numbers for women of different ages are outlined in the synopsis. Although some women are comfortable with a high rate of false positive results, some women will experience lasting consequences43 and should know the risk of harm when making the decision whether to screen.
3. Mammography doesn’t decrease cancer-related deaths long term 2014-04-1644Randomized controlled trial (non-blinded)2014Over the long term, does screening mammography decrease the likelihood of a woman dying of breast cancer?Over an average follow up of 22 years in almost 90,000 women, there was a clinically insignificant difference of 5 deaths due to breast cancer (500 vs 505) in women who received 5 annual screening mammograms instead of usual care. Over more than 2 decades, only 1.1% of women died of breast cancer, much lower than the 12.5% (1 in 8) often cited.
4. Mammogram decision aid slightly increases informed decisions by women 2015-08-1345Randomized controlled trial (double-blinded)2015Does a decision aid that incorporates data on breast cancer overdiagnosis increase informed decision making in women?Decisions aids, regardless of whether they contain information about breast cancer overdiagnosis, have a modest influence on a woman’s ability to make informed choices about screening.
  • POEM, Patient-Oriented Evidence that Matters.