Annual breast cancer screening beginning at age 40 reduces mastectomy risk

December 1, 2010

Yearly mammograms greatly reduce the risk of mastectomy following breast cancer in women between the ages of 40 and 50, according to a study presented Wednesday at the RSNA meeting.

Yearly mammograms greatly reduce the risk of mastectomy following breast cancer in women between the ages of 40 and 50, according to a study presented Wednesday at the RSNA meeting.

The researchers found women in the 40 to 50 age group who underwent mammography the previous year had a mastectomy rate of less than half that of the others.

Dr. Nicholas Perry and colleagues studied the benefits of screening women between the ages of 40 and 50, the frequency of mammography, and the type of treatment after breast cancer diagnosis.

Between 2003 and 2009, 971 women were diagnosed with breast cancer at the London Breast Institute. At the time of diagnosis, 393 (40%) of the women were under 50, with 156 of these women completing treatment at the center. Of the treated women, 114 (73%) had no prior mammograms. Of the 42 who had previously been screened with mammography, 29 had at least one mammogram within the previous two years. Of those, 16 women had a mammogram one year prior. 

“We were surprised at the degree of benefit obtained from yearly screening in this age group,” said Perry, director of the London Breast Institute at the Princess Grace Hospital in London.

Regular screening is already proven to lower the chance of women dying from breast cancer, but the results of the study support the importance of regular screening in the under-50 age group, Perry said. The results also confirm that annual mammography improves the chances of breast conservation should breast cancer develop.