Mammography uses X-ray technology to produce images of breast tissue. These images can reveal tumors and other abnormalities, such as lumps and calcifications. As a screening exam, mammography is proven to save lives. Many health care professionals and organizations, including the American Cancer Society, agree that women should be screened annually beginning at age 40.
Mammography Aids Early Detection and Treatment of Breast Cancer
Mammography has saved countless lives by enabling early detection of breast cancers. With early detection, many breast cancers can be treated more successfully. National Cancer Institute SEER Data indicate a correlation between breast cancer screening rates and mortality rates. In 1987, 22 percent of women received routine screening mammography. By 2010, that number had risen to 67 percent. Over a similar period of time, from 1990 to 2010, breast cancer mortality rates decreased by one-third from 33 percent to 22 percent.
An analysis of eight clinical trials, published 1997 in Journal of the National Cancer Institute, prompted the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to recommend annual breast cancer screening beginning at age 40. The analysis showed that a mortality reduction of 23 percent could be achieved when screening was extended to women aged 40 to 49.
Although the USPSTF now recommends for less frequent screening beginning at a later age, its recommendations still recognize that more frequent screening beginning at an earlier age can save lives. In fact, American Cancer Society statistics show that in 2013 nearly 65,000 women younger than 50 were diagnosed with breast cancer and that nearly 5,000 women in this age group died from breast cancer.
Informing Women about the Benefits of Mammography
Women should empower themselves to make their own decisions on breast cancer screening by learning about the procedure and its benefits. Physicians and health care organizations can help by educating patients about mammography, risk factors for breast cancer and how lifestyle choices affect breast cancer risk.
The staff at Integrated Care Institute is committed to educating our patients to enable them to make the right decisions about cancer screening for their personal circumstances. If you have questions about mammography, please contact us.