A new study published in the journal Radiology shows that mammography reduced the number of deaths from breast cancer by at least 30 percent, reports the Los Angeles Times' Thomas Maugh. The study is the longest ever done on the women who undergo mammography, tracking patients in Sweden for 30 years, and showing that one death from breast cancer can be prevented for every 414 to 519 women who undergo the procedure, Maugh says. Previous studies had projected that mammography could save one out of 1,000 or 1,500 women tested. Some critics have said that too much screening can result in false positives and unnecessary invasive procedures, but the study's authors say that, while overdiagnosis is a problem, it is less than half the number of lives saved. The study, however, did not stratify women by age, and doesn't answer the controversial question of whether women in their 40s need frequent screening, Maugh says. "The findings are unlikely to change clinical practice in this country because professional groups already recommend routine screening," he adds. "But because the screening seems so effective, they might reduce the pressure to extend the period between mammograms and to limit the tests for younger women."
Jul 02, 2011