London, May 11 : An analysis of more than half a million women has revealed that early mammography screening reduces the rates of advanced and fatal breast cancers, say researchers.
For the findings, published in the journal CANCER, the research team examined data on nearly one-third of the women in Sweden who were eligible for mammography screening.
“This study shows that participation in breast cancer screening substantially reduces the risk of having fatal breast cancer,” said study researcher Laszlo Tabar from Falun Central Hospital in Sweden.
Among these 549,091 women, the investigators calculated the rates of advanced breast cancers and cancers that were fatal within 10 years of diagnosis, comparing the findings in women who participated in recommended mammography screening and those who did not.
The study found a 41 per cent reduction in cancers that were fatal within 10 years after diagnosis and a 25 per cent reduction in the incidence of advanced breast cancer in women who participated in screening.
“Because the comparison of participating with non-participating persons was contemporaneous–with mammography screening and breast cancer treatment belonging to the same time period – it is not affected by potential changes in the treatment of breast cancer over time,” said Dr Duffy.
The researchers stressed that participating in breast cancer screening confers a reduced risk of dying from breast cancer above and beyond what is obtainable with current therapies in the absence of screening.
“Some may believe that recent improvements in breast cancer treatment make early detection less important. Our study shows that nothing can replace finding breast cancer early,” Dr Duffy noted.