Are routine yearly mammograms helpful in detecting breast cancer? A recent Canadian Study suggests that this may not be the case.

A recent study by Canadian researchers concluded that annual screening mammograms for women in the age group 40-59, does not reduce breast cancer deaths. The conclusion of this study differ significantly from the vast majority of studies and the opinion of experts in the field, that the current screening guidelines do in fact reduce the risk of death by 15% in this age group. The American Cancer Society has suggested that the Canadian Study may be flawed because of:

  1. The possible reduced quality of the Mammograms in the Canadian Study
  2. Problems with the Study Design
  3. A poor selection of the patients with in the study.

It is the recommendation of the American Cancer Society and this author that women should continue to follow these suggested guidelines.

  • Women in the Age Group: 20 to 30: should have a clinical breast exam as part of a routine examination every 3 years.
  • Starting at age 40: women should have a clinical breast exam every year along with a mammogram.
  • Women of all ages should be familiarized with a proper self-breast examination.

Women who are at a high risk for breast cancer based on the following factors should have a MRI and mammogram every year.

  • Known BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation
  • Family member with above gene mutation
  • Strong family history of breast cancer
  • Have had radiation to the chest between the ages of 10 to 30 y/o

Conclusion: The vast majority of studies examining the benefit of routine screening mammograms strongly recommend that mammogram screening is a very important step in reducing the incidence of advanced breast cancer. This author totally agrees with recommendations of The American Cancer Society.

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