Here’s the latest in the controversial debate about when women should begin regular mammography screening.
The first of two studies, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons., found that screening women aged 40 to 49 with mammograms detected smaller breast cancers, with less chance of spread to the lymph nodes, than relying on clinical breast exams alone. When the researchers focused on the five-year survival of women in their 40s, they found 94 percent of the mammogram-detected group had disease-free survival compared to 71 percent in the non-mammogram group.
These findings run counter to controversial recommendations issued late in 2009, which advised American women at average risk for breast cancer not to begin regular screening until age 50. That’s when regular mammography starts here in Canada.
A second study presented at the same meeting suggests that waiting until the age of 50 would hit minority women especially hard. When researchers compared the younger cohort of breast cancer patients with an older one, they found there was a greater proportion of minority women aged 40 to 49.
There is a caveat – this research is its first stages, and has not yet been subjected to rigorous debate and review by other medical experts.