Nothing beats early detection in preventing deaths related to breast cancer, a coalition of patient advocacy groups said, calling for routine mammography in all women aged 40 and older.
The groups cited a study of more than 7,000 patients, finding that 71% of patients who died from breast cancer were among the patient groups not recommended for annual screening. A full half of all breast cancer deaths occurred in patients under the age of 50, according to the report, which was backed by the American Cancer Society, American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG), American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging.
Breast cancer mortality declined in recent year, but the majority of deaths are still occurring in women who aren’t generally considered candidates for routine screening. With more routine mammograms, breast cancer mortality could drop to under 10% by 2023 and under 5% by 2030, according to the report.
"These findings should quiet those who argue that women age 40-49 do not need regular mammography screening," American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission chair Dr. Barbara Monsees said in prepared remarks. "Breast cancer treatment has come a long way, but, as this study demonstrates, these advances have not negated the value of, or the need for early detection. This is especially true for younger women, who tend to have faster growing tumors."
Unlike previous studies, the new report used "failure analysis," a sort of reverse-engineering that examines each patient from death back in time to find patterns relating to diagnosis. Researchers examined cases diagnosed between 1990 and 1999, looking at demographics, mammography use, recurrence rates, death rates and other details, according to a press release.