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Probability model estimates proportion of women who survive breast cancer detected through screening
Date:10/24/2011

CHICAGO A model used to estimate breast cancer survival rates found that the probability that a woman with screen-detected breast cancer will avoid a breast cancer death because of screening mammography may be lower than previously thought, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Today, more people are likely to know a cancer survivor than ever before," the authors write. "Between 1971 and 2007, the number of cancer survivors in the United States more than doubled, from 1.5 percent to 4 percent of the population. Breast cancer survivors are particularly common: they now represent approximately 2.5 million, or one-fifth of the current survivor population." The authors also note, however, that although "perhaps the most persuasive messages promoting screening mammography come from women who argue that the test 'saved my life,'" other possibilities for breast cancer survival exist.

H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., M.P.H., and Brittney A. Frankel, both of Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Hanover, N.H., developed a method to estimate the probability that a woman with screen-detected breast cancer had her life saved because of the screening. The authors used DevCan, the National Cancer Institute's software for analyzing data, to estimate the 10-year risk of diagnosis and the 20-year risk of death. This probability approach also relies on two estimated possibilities for a woman in the general population of the United States: the probability of having breast cancer detected by screening and the probability of avoiding breast cancer mortality (death) because of the screening.

The authors estimated that for a 50-year old woman, the risk of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 2,990 per 100,000. In this age group, 64 percent of breast cancers are found by mammography, suggesting that the risk of having a screen-detected breast cancer
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Contact: Deborah Kimbell
deborah.g.kimbell@dartmouth.edu
603-650-6694
JAMA and Archives Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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