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Early Mammography Screening Reduces Breast Cancer Mortality

Diagnosing breast cancer early helps to find effective treatments that will ensure the recovery and survival of patients. Research confirms the value of regular mammography screening in breast cancer patients. Women who get screening mammograms regularly lower their mortality rate from breast cancer significantly. However, doctors claim that even though mammograms save lives, many women are over-diagnosed.

Over-diagnosis, in this case, means that:

  • Either a screening mammogram will detect a suspicious area which would otherwise be done through other means of diagnosis without affecting the prognosis or;
  • A screening mammogram detects a suspicious area that may not affect the health of the patient if it hadn’t been detected or treated.

The false positive results obtained from screening mammograms have opened a heated debate on the value of screening for breast cancer. A mammogram may show a cancerous area which later shows to be normal. The news turns out to be good, but the suspicious area still needs a follow-up which includes second opinions, more tests and procedures that may involve a biopsy. The false positive will result in economic, psychological and physical costs for the patient.

According to a study:

  • Starting annual screening mammograms at the age of 40 would save more lives, but would also cause more false positives.
  • The different recommendations for screening have trade-offs. The optimal screening age would be at 50 years if the goal was to carry out a few mammograms. This would mean that the screening would end at age 74. But if the goal is to avert deaths from breast cancer, annual screening would start at 40 years and end when the life expectancy of a woman is between 5 – 7 years.

Every woman is at risk of contracting breast cancer, and the risk increases over time. It is important to keep your breast cancer-related health information updated at all times. Knowing the risk factors will help to seek further advice from the doctor.

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