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Mammograms Save Lives for Women in Their 40s, Study Says
Date:9/30/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Another study evaluating the value of mammograms for younger women finds that screening can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer for women in their 40s.

The study, done in Sweden, found that women who were screened cut their risk by 29 percent. That means screening 1,250 women five times over a 10-year period would save one life, study author Hakan Jonsson said during a teleconference Wednesday. The research was published online Wednesday in the journal Cancer and is to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual Breast Cancer Symposium, which starts Friday in National Harbor, Md.

The findings will no doubt do little to quell a controversy that has existed since the 1980s over the value of mammography screenings for women in their 40s.

Last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that women in their 40s not at high risk for breast cancer could forego mammograms until they turned 50 and, even then, it said they only needed to undergo screening once every two years.

That recommendation met with outrage from breast cancer specialists, while other organizations, including the American Cancer Society, continued to recommend annual mammograms for women in their 40s.

To further stir the pot, a Norwegian study released last week found that routine mammograms accounted for only about one-third of the decline in breast cancer death rates seen recently.

The value of mammograms for women 50 and older is not in question.

Speaking at the teleconference, Dr. Jennifer Obel, chair of the American Society of Clinical Oncology's communications committee, said: "This study adds to our knowledge of mammogram performance in this age group. Many women aged 40 to 49 want unambiguous recommendations. While the optimal schedule of regular mammograms continues to be discussed by experts
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