A new study has revealed that annual mammography screening of women in their 40s reduces the breast cancer death rate in these women by nearly 30 percent.
The results of this largest study ever conducted on women in this age group confirm that the use of the age of 50 as a threshold for breast cancer screening is scientifically unfounded. Women should begin getting annual mammograms at age 40.
"This study shows that annual mammograms for women 40 and over result in a tremendously significant reduction in the breast cancer death rate for women 40-49. The age of 50 is an artificial threshold that has no basis in scientific fact. The debate is now over. Women should no longer be confused about the importance of annual breast cancer screening. Mammography saves lives. If you are a woman age 40 or over, one of them could be yours," said Phil Evans, MD, President of the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI).
The Swedish trial followed more than 600,000 women for 16 years. The number of breast cancer deaths among the women in the study who did not receive mammograms was twice as high as those who underwent screening. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. It kills around 465,000 people globally each year. Mammography can catch cancer early, when it is most treatable. While not a perfect test, at present, there is no other screening tool to replace it.
The study has been published online in Cancer.