Breast Conservation

Yearly mammograms reduce risk of mastectomy

(RxWiki News) A new study shows that women between the ages of 40 and 50 greatly reduce the risk of mastectomy after breast cancer if they undergo yearly mammograms.

According to lead author Nicholas M. Perry, M.B.B.S., F.R.C.S., F.R.C.R., director of the London Breast Institute, "Women [between 40 and 50] who had undergone mammography the previous year had a mastectomy rate of less than half that of the others."

It is estimated that 207,090 American women will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2010. In order to catch the cancer early and prevent spreading, the American Cancer Society recommends that women receive annual mammography screenings beginning at age 40. In 2009, however, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that screening occur every other year starting at age 50.

Drawing from clinical data on women diagnosed with breast cancer and treated at the London Breast Institute, Dr. Perry and his colleagues found 393 women under the age of 50 at the time they were diagnosed with breast cancer. Of these women, 156 completed treatment at the London center. Of these 156 women, 114 (73 percent) had never received a mammogram. The remaining 42 women had been screened, 29 of whom had been screened within the previous two years. Of those women, 16 were screened within one year.

The study assessed the potential benefits of screening women between 40 and 50 years old by analyzing the frequency of mammography and the type of treatment the women received after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers reviewed the records of the women who needed mastectomy in order to see whether or not they had been screened the previous year. "We were surprised," says Dr. Perry, "at the degree of benefit obtained from yearly screening in this age group."

The results show that mastectomy was required for 3 (19 percent) of the 16 women who had been screened in the prior year, compared to 64 (46 percent) of the 140 women who did not receive a mammogram in the past year.

In conclusion, Dr. Perry said, "Regular screening is already proven to lower the chance of women dying from breast cancer." The results of our study support the importance of regular screening in the under-50 age group and confirm that annual mammography improves the chances of breast conservation should breast cancer develop."

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Review Date: 
December 2, 2010