Regularly Screened Patients with Breast Cancer Have Lower Mortality Rates

January 28, 2019

Women who participated in regular breast screening programs benefitted more from therapy than women who were not screened regularly.

Women who participate in regular breast cancer screening programs tend to benefit more from therapy after diagnosis, compared with women who do not have regular screenings, according to a study published in the journal Cancer.

Researchers from several countries sought to understand if women who participated in regular breast cancer screening programs had different outcomes after diagnosis compared with women who did not undergo regular breast cancer screening.

The researchers used data obtained from a defined population in Sweden, looking for population, screening history, breast cancer incidence, and disease‐specific death data. They calculated the annual incidence of breast cancer, as well as the annual incidence of breast cancers that were fatal within 10 and within 11 to 20 years of diagnosis among women aged 40 to 69 years who either did or did not participate in mammography screening during a 39‐year period (1977 to 2015).

Related article: MRI Breast Cancer Screening Overused for Low-Risk Women

The researchers also obtained corresponding data from 19 years of the prescreening period (1958 to 1976). Regardless of how the cancer was detected, all patients received stage‐specific therapy according to the latest national guidelines.

The results showed that women who participated in organized breast cancer screening programs had a 60% lower risk of dying from breast cancer within 10 years after diagnosis and a 47% lower risk of dying from breast cancer within 20 years after diagnosis compared with the corresponding risks for nonparticipants.

The researchers concluded that although the patients all received appropriate treatment for their cancer and stage, the women who participated in regular breast screening programs had a significantly greater benefit from the therapy available at the time of diagnosis than do those who did not participate.