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  • The goal of breast screening is to reduce deaths due to breast cancer by detecting breast cancer early, when treatment is more effective and less harmful.
  • About 1 in 69 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their forties.
  • Seventy-five percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no special identifiable risk factors: screening only women with risk factors will miss the vast majority of women who will develop breast cancer.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and sometimes nuclear medicine techniques, can show small breast cancers, but studies have not yet been performed to show that these techniques reduce mortality from breast cancer.
  • Based on the observational studies of modern screening mammography there are 30 to 40% fewer deaths due to breast cancer among women screened with mammography than among those who do not undergo screening.
  • Mammography is not perfect, and it will not benefit all women equally. Mammography detects most, but not all, breast cancers. There are downsides to mammography that most women will experience if they get regular mammograms, and these are most commonly the need for additional imaging when an abnormality is suspected, or the need for biopsy for findings that appear suspicious but turn out not to be cancer.
  • The risk of causing breast cancer from the radiation of mammography is far lower than the likelihood of mammography detecting breast cancer for women aged 40 years and older.
  • Major health organizations including the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Breast Disease, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging agree that starting annual mammography at age 40 saves the most lives.
  • According to National Cancer Institute data, since mammography screening became widespread in the early 1990’s, the U.S. breast cancer death rate, unchanged for the previous 50 years, decreased over 30 percent. By not getting a yearly mammogram after age 40, women increase their odds of dying from breast cancer and that treatment for any advanced cancers ultimately found will be more extensive and more expensive.