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Screening mammograms catch second breast cancers early
Date:2/22/2011

More women are surviving longer after having early-stage breast cancer, but they are at risk of developing breast cancer again: a recurrence or a new cancer, in either breast. Annual screening (a.k.a. "surveillance") mammography has long been standard for these women, but only scant evidence on screening outcomes supported this practice. In the February 23, 2011 Journal of the American Medical Association, the most comprehensive relevant study to date shows yearly mammograms do detect second breast cancers early.

The Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) study examined 12 years of information from 58,870 screening mammograms in 19,078 women who had had early-stage breast cancerand an equal number of screening mammograms in 55,315 women who had no such history and were matched for breast density, age, BCSC registry, and year of mammography.

With her BCSC colleagues, Nehmat Houssami, MBBS, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Sydney's School of Public Health and Sydney Medical School and a physician at the Royal Hospital for Women, in Australia, found that women with a personal history of breast cancer had double the cancer rates as those with no such history. Women who had had breast cancer had 655 second cancers within a year of screening mammography, and those with no prior breast cancer had 342 cancers, with cancer rates of 10.5 vs. 5.8 per 1,000 screens, respectively.

"The comprehensive data from the BCSC made it possible for us to carefully examine the outcomes of screening for both the previously affected (conserved) breast, as well as the opposite breast, at a population level," Dr Houssami said. "This is the first study in the world, to our knowledge, to provide a complete picture of the expected outcomes of mammography screening for women with a personal history of breast cancer."

"Mammography was effective at finding cancers early in women who had had cancer, but not quite as effective a
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Contact: Rebecca Hughes
hughes.r@ghc.org
206-287-2055
Group Health Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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