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Mammography Saves Life-Beware Women Over 40

A new report finds that less number of women aged 40 and older are getting mammography done nowadays.//

This declining mammography rate could mean more breast cancer deaths down the line, according to concerned experts.

Mammography rates kept increasing during the 1990s, and scientists are disturbed about this decline.

"Maybe women need to be reminded that, despite mammography being a test that's been around for a long time, it's still the best test," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System, in Baton Rouge, La. "We have to constantly tell our patients that doing a mammogram is the single greatest screening test to help you detect breast cancer early, and we have very clear evidence that it does reduce mortality."

"We have been noting for some time a gradual decrease in women getting mammograms, and we've been concerned," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. "The bottom line is, fewer women are getting mammograms, fewer breast cancers are detected early. That means more late detection, fewer treatment options and a poorer prognosis for survival."

The Department of Health and Human Services, recommends women in 40s should have a mammogram once every year in order to be screened for breast cancer.

Several other organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association, agree on this though they disagree on how often.

Breast cancer in women is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States.

According to reliable sources, screening mammography can reduce deaths from breast cancer by about 20 percent in women aged 40 to 49.

This study is based on information collected from adult women between 2000 and 2005. Women over 40 were asked to give details about the mammograms they have h ad.

It was found that women having a mammogram during the past two years decreased from 76.4 percent in 2000 to 74.6 percent in 2005, which is a statistically significant difference.

"Are women getting prevention complacency, as with anything we do that is routine?" Lichtenfeld asked. "And do we have enough facilities? There is also an increasing number of uninsured and underinsured. There is no clear simple explanation."

Experts insist that mammograms are lifesaving and women over 40 should take it very seriously.

"Although breast cancer can't be completely prevented, screening mammography can be used to detect breast cancer early, before it's big enough to feel or cause symptoms," Ryerson said. "Really early detection is important, because when the cancer is found and treated at an early stage, the risk of dying from the disease is lower."

"If you're a woman over 40 and have never had one or have, and it's been more than two years, it's essential that you contact your health-care provider and get one scheduled," she said.


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