Friday, October 1, 2010

Breast cancer screening, 40-49 years of age

From Dr Lichtenfeld’s blog:

A review of the Hellquist et al study of breast cancer screening by mammography.
Today, we have another report in the journal Cancer… that… suggests that screening women in their 40's significantly reduces the risk of death from breast cancer.
In brief, the researchers looked at deaths from breast cancer in the entire country of Sweden with follow-up that averaged about 16 years.
[R]esearchers concluded that women in the 40-49 years old age group who were invited to screening decreased their rates of death from breast cancer by 26%. When they looked only at women who actually got screened, that rate increased to 29%. Both of these are very substantial numbers, and in their opinion showed a significant benefit for screening mammograms in women 40-49.
The authors also did an analysis of how many women needed to be invited to screening to save one life from breast cancer. That number was one of the reasons the USPSTF [United States Preventive Services Task Force] elected not to recommend routine screening mammograms in women ages 40-49. In the current study, 1252 women would have to be invited to screening over 10 years to save one life. The statistical analysis also suggested that number may be as low as 958 or as high as 1915. To some, that number may be sufficient to justify screening, to others it is too many women would have to be screened. In other words, it becomes a value judgment whether enough lives are saved from breast cancer in the 40-49 YO age group to justify screening.

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