Entries in Screenings (3)


Benefits Outweigh Risks for Mammograms for Women in 40s

Comstock/Jupiterimages(WASHINGTON) -- Do mammograms cause more harm than good? The newest study of breast cancer screening comes down in favor of them. The research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that the benefits of mammography screenings outweigh the risks -- at least if the tests are done every other year in high-risk women in their 40s.

Women who fit the category had to have at least a two-fold higher risk of developing breast cancer than the average woman. Factors that put women at such risk include having dense breast tissue (about 13 percent of women ages 40 to 49) or having a first-degree relative with the disease (about 9 percent of women ages 40 to 49).

"Benefits" of screening were characterized by increase in life-years and decrease in breast cancer deaths. "Harms" were defined as false positives that can lead to follow-up surgical procedures, pain and anxiety.

Data for the study were taken from three national research groups, including the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC), Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) and the Oregon Evidence-Based Practice Center.

"This research provides important new evidence to support the use of personalized, risk-based breast cancer screening approaches," said Dr. Jean Mandelblatt, lead author of the study and associate director for population sciences at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Nevertheless, Mandelblatt said, "I know that women want to know what they should do and the message remains unchanged. They should talk about their risk factors and preferences for the harms of screening with their health care providers to make the best decision for themselves."

Yearly mammograms are currently recommended by the American Cancer Society in women 40 and over, and women should continue their yearly screening as long as they're in good health. These guidelines are different from those of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which currently suggest that women only start receiving mammograms every two years at age 50.

But Dr. Barbara Monsees, professor of women's health and radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said that most women who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors, and therefore oncologists will miss most cancers if those screenings only happen once every two years.

"Younger women have faster-growing tumors and need to be screened yearly, not every other year," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Most Older Adults Receive Cancer Screenings

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(STORRS, Conn.) -- Most adults 75 and older undergo cancer screenings, even though the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against routine screening for certain cancers in that age group, according to a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers led by Keith Bellizzi, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, found that among 1,697 adults between the ages of 75 to 79, 57 percent were screened for colorectal cancer, 62 percent were screened for breast cancer and 56 were screened for prostate cancer. Adults older than 80 were screened less often -- 38 percent of the 2,376 adults in this age group received screening for cervical cancer and 50 percent were screened for breast cancer.

Other factors correlated with screening were physician recommendations, education level and certain medical conditions. Older adults were more likely to get screened if their doctors recommended it, if they were college educated and, regarding prostate cancer screening, if they had other medical conditions.

Bellizzi explained he and his colleagues wanted to get an idea of how many older Americans were still getting screened for cancer. The findings, he hopes, will lead to dialogue about what factors should be taken into account when making screening recommendations.

There have not been many studies evaluating how effective screening is in the older adult population. Most research has focused on younger adults, and recommendations are based on findings of these studies.

Cancer experts say there are a number of variables to consider when recommending screening, and relying solely on a person's chronological age may not be the best way to determine whether screening is necessary. Life expectancy and current health status are also important.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Longest Mammography Study Shows Screening Saves Lives

Photodisc/Thinkstock(FALUN, Sweden) -- The longest-ever study of its kind confirms that mammography prevents deaths from breast cancer.
A study last year showed that mammography screening in women between 40 and 49 reduced breast cancer deaths by 30 percent.
Now a new and larger study in the journal Radiology expands on those results.
Over 130,000 Swedish women aged 40 to 74 -- including some from the earlier study -- were followed for almost 30 years, making this the longest mammography screening study ever done.
It found -- just like the 2010 study -- that mammography screening cut deaths from breast cancer by about 30 percent.
There was one big difference, though. The previous study found that, to save one life, up to 1,500 women had to be regularly screened.
Now that the data span almost three decades -- and include older women -- the number of women who need to be screened to save one life has dropped to between 400 and 500.
One expert says that's because screening in older women is more effective -- and cancer is more prevalent in older women.   
One note of caution: not all studies of mammography have produced such impressive results.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio