The American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, and many other professional societies recommend annual exams beginning at age 40. Now researchers at Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have released new findings that women between 40 and 49 who undergo routine screening mammography are diagnosed at earlier stages with smaller tumors.
“Foregoing mammography for women in this age group leads to diagnoses of later stage breast cancers,” says the study's senior author, Dr. Donna Plecha, Director of Breast Imaging at UH Case Medical Center and Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
For the study, the researchers compared breast cancer stage at diagnosis in two groups of women aged between 40 and 49: women undergoing screening mammography and women with a symptom that indicated further tests.
Statistics show that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The stage at which the cancer is discovered influences a woman’s chance of survival, and annual mammography after the age of 40 enables physicians to identify the smallest abnormalities – when breast cancer is detected early and confined to the breast, the five-year survival rate is 97%.
“Annual screening mammograms starting at the age of 40 save lives,” says Dr. Plecha. “Breast cancers caught in the initial stages by mammography are more likely to be cured and are less likely to require chemotherapy or as extensive surgery.”
Mammograms are probably the most important tool doctors have not just to screen for breast cancer, but to diagnose, evaluate and follow up on women who have had breast cancer.
It is simply an X-ray examination of the breast performed with special equipment that can often find tumors too small to be felt with the hand. A mammogram is the best radiographic method available today to detect breast cancer early and an annual screening is strongly recommended for women over 40 for whom the risk of breast cancer is increased.
Like the fears associated with breast cancer itself, some women experience considerable anxiety over the mammogram and the prospect of discovering a tumor, so we would like to assure you that the procedure is relatively simple, that most breast disorders are not cancer, and that among cancer cases, more than 90% are curable if detected early and treated promptly. Several studies have shown that mammograms reduce breast cancer deaths by more than a third.
Research centers around the world are constantly developing new technologies to detect breast tumors and improve conventional mammography, including the state-of-the-art digital mammography performed at Bangkok Hospital that requires less radiation and offers the highest accuracy and efficiency available today while eliminating any discomfort once associated with the procedure.
Early screenings through mammography performed by the specialized and highly trained radiologists at Bangkok Hospital allow doctors to detect early breast cancer when it is most treatable. Please call us for an appointment – after all, life begins at 40.