A study published in the February 11th issue of Cancer estimates that up to 600,000 lives have been saved by mammography since 1989.
Researchers tracked 1990-2015 U.S. data on breast cancer deaths, along with general data, on women aged 40 to 84. They found that between 305,000 and 483,000 breast cancer deaths were prevented during that time period.
By extrapolating the data out to 2018, the team found that between 384,000 to 614,500 breast cancer deaths had been prevented since 1989; and in 2018 alone, between 27,000 and 46,000 deaths were prevented due to mammography technology.
Study author, R. Edward Hendrick, of the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine in Denver, said that recent studies on mammography have focused too much on the risks of mammography such as call-backs and breast biopsies while ignoring the bigger picture: “…the most important aspect of screening – that finding and treating breast cancer early saves women’s lives,” Hendrick said. He hopes that this new research will reassure women who question the value of screening mammography.
While the study showed positive strides in the life-saving nature of mammography, Hendrick said that only half of American women ages 40 and up get regular mammograms.
“The best possible long-term effect of our findings would be to help women recognize that early detection and modern, personalized breast cancer treatment saves lives, and to encourage more women to get screened annually starting at age 40,” Hendrick said.