ATLANTA--The American Cancer Society's research program has awarded a $75,000 planning grant to the Union Internationale Contre le Cancer (UICC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, to study the feasibility of conducting a long-term international study on the effects of mammography in reducing breast cancer mortality in women in their 40s.
The planning grant will enable researchers to learn whether the quality of screening and levels of participation would be adequate to initiate the proposed "Eurotrial 40" population study, said Robert A. Smith, PhD, the Society's senior director of detection and treatment.
"The planning grant is important so that the study does not suffer from the same limitations that have plagued existing studies, such as insufficient numbers of women, less sensitive screening protocols, and inadequate follow-up," Dr. Smith said.
The planning phase will be directed by Dr. Marco Rosselli Del Turco, medical director of the diagnostic breast unit at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Breast Cancer, Florence, Italy.
If the planning process is followed by a clinical trial, the goal would be to determine the benefits of mammography for women in their 40s, Dr. Smith said. The proposed Eurotrial 40 would compare a group of about 85,000 women aged 40 to 42 invited to receive periodic screenings with a comparable group of approximately 170,000 women who would not receive screening. The trial would last 10 years, although researchers would follow participants until their deaths.
The trial would be conducted in Europe, where screening mammography of women in their 40s is rare, rather than the United States, where mammography for this age group is more common, Dr. Smith said. In the United States, women might be reluctant to enroll or, if placed in the control group, might undergo screening on their own, he added.