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Mammograms Have 'Limited or No Effect' on Breast Cancer Deaths: Study
Date:7/17/2012

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Regular mammography screening has limited -- if any -- impact on breast cancer deaths, a new evaluation of Swedish women contends.

"Our analysis found no or limited influence of mammography screening on breast cancer mortality," said Dr. Philippe Autier, at the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France. The report is published July 17 in the Journal of The National Cancer Institute.

Finding no or limited impact in Sweden, he said, suggests that the same might be true in other countries, including the United States.

However, the report has some built-in limitations, said Dr. Michael Vannier, a professor of radiology and medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, who wrote one of two editorials that accompany the study.

"Measuring the way they did," Vannier said, "it was almost impossible to find an impact [of screening] on an individual basis." Rather, as nationwide screening was rolled out in Sweden by counties, the study looked at screening in different counties over different time periods.

In Swedish counties in which screening began in 1974 to 1978, for instance, death rate trends during the next 18 years were similar to those before screening started. In other counties, studied in other time periods when screening started there, death rates sometimes increased and in other counties decreased.

Death rates from breast cancer in Swedish women, overall, started to decline in 1972, Autier found, before screening was introduced.

The overall net effect, however, was limited or no impact from screening on the death rates.

Even so, Vannier said that the report should not be a reason for women aged 40 and older to stop regular routine mammography screening. In the second editorial, Nereo Segnan of ASO S Giovanni Battista University Hospital in Turin, Italy, and his
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