Most publications about breast cancer do not provide accurate and comprehensive information, giving few or no data about risk/benefit ratios. We conducted a comparative study among 10 European countries about health information on breast cancer screening, assessing the first 10 Web sites addressing the general public that appeared following an Internet search.
With the help of medical residents involved in the EuroNet MRPH Association, we analyzed the first 30 results of an Internet search in 10 European countries to determine the first 10 sites that offered screening mammography. We searched for the following information: source of information, general information on mammography and breast cancer screening, potential harms and risks (false positives, false positives after biopsy, false negatives, interval cancer, overdiagnosis, lead-time bias, and radiation exposure), and potential benefits (reduced mortality and increased survival).
The United Kingdom provided the most information: 39 of all 70 possible identified risks (56%) were reported on its sites. Five nations presented over 35% of the possible information (United Kingdom, Spain, France, Ireland, and Italy); the others were under 30% (Portugal, Poland, Slovenia, Netherlands, and Croatia). Regarding the benefits, sites offering the most complete information were those in France (95%) and Poland (90%).
Our results suggest that, despite consensus in the scientific community about providing better information to citizens, further efforts are needed to improve information about breast cancer screening. That conclusion also applies to countries showing better results. We believe that there should be greater coordination in this regard throughout Europe.