Study Finds Big Benefits for Breast Cancer Screening

There has been a lot of discussion recently over the value of breast cancer screening measures, like mammograms. The dialogue is sure to continue as a new group of researchers has uncovered a significant mortality benefit from screening for breast cancer. These findings contest a variety of skeptical studies and reports published over the past few months, which suggest that breast cancer screenings benefits had been overestimated.

The authors of a review came from nine different European countries, analyzing data from their countries to draw conclusions about the usefulness of screening. Researchers concluded that the primary benefit was breast cancer mortality reduction (7-9 lives saved per 1,000 screenings) and the principal drawback was over-diagnosis of breast cancer and false-positive screening tests that often result in unnecessary biopsies (4 women per 1,000 screenings).

A closer look at breast cancer screening usefulness

In recent months, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines for breast cancer screening have cast a shadow of doubt had been cast on the usefulness of the screening. A number of studies found data was inconclusive in validating the exam, especially in women under 50.

Dr. O’Neil: When should I begin my breast cancer screening?

While this review of breast screening data doesn’t take into account studies of women younger than 50, it does reinforce that bi-yearly screenings for women aged 50 and older still holds tremendous value.

The numbers are clear – the number of deaths avoided by breast cancer screening clearly exceeds the estimated number of over-diagnoses. In fact, estimates show a 25-31% reduction in mortality for women who are screened.

Schedule your breast cancer screening

For women with an average risk of breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40. For women in their twenties and thirties, a clinical breast exam every three years can help detect breast changes. Breast self-exams are also an option for women starting in their twenties – ask your primary care physician how to properly conduct a self-exam.

+ Schedule your mammogram online at imaging centers in Norfolk, Suffolk, or Newport News.

+ “Catch That Coach!” giveaway encourages Hampton Roads breast cancer screenings with a Coach purse drawing!

Source: The Advisory Board

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