Mammography Saves Lives. Period.

Breast cancer screenings cut mortality risks by half

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Controversy has swirled around when to start mammography and how often to have these breast cancer screenings. New research says what's important is for women just to have them done.

A recently published study demonstrated that women who had received at least three mammograms had a 49 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer.

"Have regular mammograms."

Suzie Otto, Ph.D., a senior researcher in the department of public health at the Erasmus MC at Rotterdam in the Netherlands, says this study adds still more evidence about the value of mammography.

Otto and colleagues analyzed data relating to 755 patients who died from breast cancer between 1995 and 2003. They were compared with 3,739 controls. Of the total cases of breast cancer diagnosed, nearly 29.8 percent were detected during the mammography, 34.3 percent were found between screenings and 35.9 percent had never been screened.

Deadly Stage IV tumors were detected in 29.5 percent of women who had never been screened, compared with only 5.3 percent of women that had undergone screening.

Women who had had at least three mammograms before their cancer diagnosis were 49 percent less likely of dying from the disease. This reduction was highest among older women between the ages of 70 and 75, with an 84 percent decreased mortality risk. Women between the ages of 50 and 69 had a 39 percent reduced risk.

Cary Kaufman, M.D., a breast surgeon and specialist at Bellingham Regional Breast Center in Washington state, told dailyRx, "This study reaffirms that routine screening mammography saves lives. The fact is that those who refused screening mammography had SIX TIMES the numbers of Stage IV (lethal) breast cancers than those who had screening. Mammography speaks for itself," Dr. Kaufman asserts.

This study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

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Review Date: 
December 6, 2011
Last Updated:
December 6, 2011