Study: Mammograms Helped Prevent Half A Million Deaths In Last 30 Years

Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Screenings and improved treatment have saved thousands of lives from breast cancer over the last three decades, a study says.

In 2018, mammography examinations and breast cancer treatment reduced the expected mortality rate to 58.3 percent -- a 45 percent decline -- according to a study published Monday in the journal Cancer.

"Recent reviews of mammography screening have focused media attention on some of the risks of mammography screening, such as call-backs for additional imaging and breast biopsies, downplaying the most important aspect of screening--that finding and treating breast cancer early saves women's lives," R. Edward Hendrick, a researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and study author, said in a press release. "Our study provides evidence of just how effective the combination of early detection and modern breast cancer treatment have been in averting breast cancer deaths."

Between 1990 and 2015, the total number of breast cancer deaths avoided ranged from more than 305,000 women to more than 483,000. From 1989 to 2018, between 384,000 to 614,500 cancer deaths have been avoided.

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Last year, alone, an estimated 27,083 to 45,726 breast cancer deaths were averted.

"The best possible long-term effect of our findings would be to help women recognize that early detection and modern, personalized breast cancer treatment saves lives and to encourage more women to get screened annually starting at age 40," Hendrick said.

The researchers looked at breast cancer mortality among U.S. women between ages 40 and 84 years over 30 years.

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The average woman has a 12 percent risk of developing breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. They estimate that 268,600 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

"While we anticipate new scientific advances that will further reduce breast cancer deaths and morbidity, it is important that women continue to comply with existing screening and treatment recommendations," Mark Helvie, a researcher at the University of Michigan Health System and study author.

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