Study shows long-term benefits of mammography

June 28, 2011
Dr. Stephen Feig

N THE NEWS: Dr. Stephen Feig discussed the findings of a new study of the long-term benefits of mammography with the Orange County Register. The Swedish study, which was posted online Tuesday at the journal Radiology, reviewed breast screening results over nearly 30 years.

This is critical, because breast cancer is a chronic disease. “Some women may die in two years, and some may not die for 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years,” said Feig, head of breast imaging at UC Irvine Medical Center.

“The longer you monitor, the stronger the proof becomes,” Feig added.

The Swedish researchers examined more than 133,000 women age 40-74. One group received regular mammography screenings, while the other group received normal care. Women between 40 and 49 had mammograms every 24 months, on average, while those age 50 to 74 were screened every 33 months on average. The screening phase of the trial lasted seven years.

There was a 30 percent reduction in breast-cancer deaths among the group who received mammograms. And the percentage likely would have been higher had doctors had access to the more sophisticated imaging technologies available today.

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