Things to Know About Breast Imaging
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.
PERCENTAGE OF DIAGNOSIS IN FORTIES
About 1 in 69 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their forties.
NO RISK FACTORS
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.
SCREENING CUTS DEATH BY 30 to 40%
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.
BREAST SCREENING TECHNIQUES
Magnetic resonance imagaing (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.
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.
LOWER RISK FROM RADIATION
The risk of causing breast cancer from the radiation is far lower than the likelihood of mammography detecting breast cancer for women aged 40 years and older.
STARTING AT 40
Major health organizations including the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Breast Disease, the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging agree that starting annual mammography at age 40 saves the most lives.
INCREASE IN LIVES SAVED
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 by 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.