February 5, 2009

Screening Mammography Associated with Reduced Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrences

The results of a recent study indicate that screening mammography is associated with a reduced risk of cancer recurrences in women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Researchers from Finland recently analyzed data regarding the use of screening mammography to detect breast cancer and its possible association with the risk of a recurrence. This study included 527 women, ages 40-74 years, who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1987 and 1993. Of these women, 418 had their cancer first detected with screening mammography, while 109 had their cancer detected via methods other than screening with mammography (i.e. the patient felt a lump in the breast). Five years following diagnosis, patients who had their cancer detected through screening mammography had approximately half the rate of recurrences (16%) compared to the group of patients whose cancer was detected through other means (28%). Ten years following diagnosis, recurrence rates were 21% for those whose cancer was detected through screening mammography and 34% for those whose cancer was detected through other means. Prognosis following a recurrence was similar between the two groups of patients.

The researchers concluded that detection of breast cancer through screening mammography is associated with a reduced risk of a cancer recurrence. It is suspected that this is a result of earlier detection of breast cancer, prior to any noticeable symptoms. These results add to a growing body of evidence that screening mammography plays a positive role in the screening and prevention efforts of breast cancer. Patients who are 40 years of age or older, or those at a high risk of developing breast cancer should speak with their physician regarding screening for breast cancer.

Immonen-Räihä P, Kauhava L, Parvinen I, et al. Mammographic screening reduces risk of breast carcinoma recurrence. Cancer. 2005; 103: 474-482.

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Screening/Prevention Breast Cancer, Uncategorized