Image: Clinicians reviewing breast cancer screening results (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
Researchers comparing breast cancer screening recommendations have found that annual screening starting from age 40 would reduce breast cancer-specific deaths by the highest percentage.
The researchers used computer models to investigate the effectiveness of three annual screening strategies that were also programmed to look for risks related to screening such as callbacks for more imaging scans, or a needle biopsy to find false positive results.
The study was led by researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine (New York, NY, USA), New York-Presbyterian (New York, NY, USA), and the University of Colorado School of Medicine (Aurora, CO, USA), and was published in the August 21, 2017, issue of the journal Cancer. The goal of the study was intended to uncover insights to help women make the best choices for mammography screening.
The first screening strategy consisted of screening from age 40 years; the second consisted of annual screening beginning at ages of 45 to 54 years, with additional biennial screening for 55 to 79 year olds. The third strategy consisted only of biennial screening for 50 to 74 year olds. The results showed that screening beginning at age 40 reduced breast cancer-specific deaths by nearly 40%, while the other recommendations reduced deaths from the disease by between 23% and 31%.
Elizabeth Kagan Arleo, MD, Weill Cornell Medicine, and New York-Presbyterian, said, "Our findings are important and novel because this is the first time the three most widely discussed recommendations for screening mammography have been compared head to head. Our research would be put to good use if, because of our findings, women chose to start annual screening mammography starting at age 40. Over the long term, this would be significant because fewer women would die from breast cancer."
Weill Cornell Medicine
University of Colorado School of Medicine