Areview of major clinical trials strongly supports the value of mammography screening for women in their 40s. The review showed a 24% decrease in deaths from breast cancer among women who underwent screening mammograms compared to women who were not screened.
Results of the review were released at an international conference under the auspices of the Swedish Cancer Society and the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare in Falun, Sweden.
The findings from Sweden strongly support the recommendation of more than 20 US medical and women's organizations for regular mammographic screening of women in the 40- to 49-year-old group. Among those groups are the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations, the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, The Komen Foundation, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Included in the study were seven regional clinical trials from five Swedish cities, one in Scotland, and a major clinical trial in New York City.
In the studies, screening was done every 2 years. If such screening were done annually, the decrease in deaths would likely be as much as 35%, said Dr. Stephen A. Feig, professor of radiology at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and a nationally recognized expert on screening mammography.
Dr. Feig, who is also a member of the ACR Task Force on Breast Cancer, also pointed out that the impressive 22% decrease was recorded without the benefit of the more advanced mammography machines used today. Therefore, he said, "we can really expect to see an even greater impact of screening in the future."