Annual mammogram screening at younger age reduces breast cancer deaths

A new study questions the controversial U.S. Preventative Service Task Force recommendations for breast cancer screening, with data that shows starting at a younger age and screening more frequently will result in more lives saved.

As part of their recommendation, the task force emphasized the potential harms mammography can cause – including pain during the screening exam and anxiety from false-positives, which can lead to additional imaging or biopsy.

The study authors found that on average women ages 40-49 who are screened annually will have a false-positive mammogram once every 10 years. They will get asked back for more tests once every 12 years and will undergo a false-positive biopsy once every 149 years.

"The task force overemphasized potential harms of screening mammography, while ignoring the proven statistically significant benefit of annual screening mammography starting at age 40," Hendrick says. "In addition, the panel ignored more recent data from screening programs in Sweden and Canada showing that 40 percent of breast cancer deaths are averted in women who get regular screening mammography. Our modeling results agree completely with these screening program results in terms of the large number of women lives saved by regular screening mammography."

Source: University of Colorado School of Medicine

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