Study Supports Mammograms for Women in Their 40s
There is a lot of debate going on regarding when a woman should submit oneself to routine mammograms, along with doubts as to whether the procedure brings as much good as it should.
At this time, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has the following recommendation: “Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.” There have been other groups, however, who are pushing for changing the recommended age to 50.
Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, was quoted in a feature on Bloomberg Business Week: “I have tremendous difficulty in not recommending an intervention [mammography] that a number of clinical trials suggest is beneficial… That’s where we stand.”
The results of a recently-released Swedish study support the recommendation of the ACS. The study revealed that women in their 40s who regularly undergo mammograms can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by 29 percent. The research, touted as one of the largest such studies to date, analyzed data from more than a million women; researchers, however, did not take into account other potential harms related to screening, such as unnecessary biopsies.
Dr. Daniel Kopans, senior radiologist in the breast imaging division of the Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission, offered the opinion that mammography for women in their 40s saves lives. He said: “The Swedish study, to me, should be the nail in the coffin [of the debate]… This whole business of we don’t know if works for women in their 40s that should end. Randomized controlled trials show a benefit beginning at age 40.” Kopans is also a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.Tags: breast cancer, breast cancer detection, breast cancer risk, mammogram, mammogram benefits