A POWERFUL and controversial documentary about the UK's Breast Cancer Screening Programme has been produced in Merseyside.
The film has taken extensive evidence from a cross-section of medical experts who say they believe the national programme - introduced in 1987 - urgently needs to be changed as it is doing more harm than previously realised.
A central theme to the documentary - entitled "The Promise" - is that women should be offered an NHS alternative to mammography, along with safer treatments that do not involve chemotherapy and radiation.
The production comes in the wake of a 2012 independent review of NHS mammography screening.
The review found around 1,300 lives are saved every year by the procedure, which women are invited to undergo between the ages of 50 to 70.
But 4,000 will have unnecessary treatment, including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, for a cancer they would not otherwise have known about and which would have done them no harm in their lifetime.
Some breast cancers are so tiny and slow-growing they would never be a threat to a woman's health, the review said.
However, it recommended the screenings should continue.
The Promise, released on Monday by Liverpool company Nark Angel in association with Tallboy Films, begins with the boldly stark statement: “The biggest catastrophe in women’s health is taking place right now, right before our eyes.
"Healthy women all over the world have been disfigured, disempowered and brainwashed into believing their beautiful, nurturing breasts have only one objective...to kill them."
One of the most striking messages in the 60-minute movie comes from Michael Baum, Professor Emeritus of Surgery and a leading oncologist specialising in breast cancer treatment.
Professor Baum helped devise the UK screening programme, but is now one of its most high-profile critics.
He believes women are not receiving accurate or complete information on the benefits and risks of the procedure.
Prof Baum disclosed: "There is a downside to screening, namely the problem of over‐diagnosis."
He said not giving women the fullest information about potential risks can lead to consequences that are “so cruel it should make you weep.”
The Promise was premiered at special screenings last week at Blackburne House in Liverpool’s Hope Street.
Many of the audience were visibly moved by it.
An intense question-and-answer session with the film’s producers at the end heard some women angrily express that they felt "misled" by health service advice.
There are hopes the documentary, presented by Fleet Street columnist Carole Malone, will be taken up by one of the major broadcast companies in the near future.
Meanwhile, you can download the film yourself here