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Annual Breast Cancer Screening from Age 40: A Strategy for Maximum Mortality Reduction

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Medriva Correspondents
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Annual Breast Cancer Screening from Age 40: A Strategy for Maximum Mortality Reduction

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New Study: The Best Age to Start Breast Cancer Screening

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A new research study has reignited the debate on the most effective age to start breast cancer screening and how frequently these screenings should take place. The results of this study, led by Dr. Debra Monticciolo, suggest that annual screenings starting at age 40 and continuing to at least age 79 result in the most breast cancer deaths prevented and the most years of life gained. This study emphasizes the importance of early detection, as advanced breast cancer is often lethal and easier to treat when found earlier.

After the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended biennial screening starting at age 50 in 2009, mammogram rates declined. However, new recommendations suggest biennial screening starting at age 40. This study highlights the manageable risks of screening and the significant benefits in terms of women's lives. The research is based on data from the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET).

Annual Screening from Age 40 Yields Highest Mortality Reduction

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Published in Radiology, the study compared the benefits and risks of different screening scenarios. The researchers found that annual screening of women aged 40-79 showed a mortality reduction of 41.7%, lower false positive screens, and fewer benign biopsies compared to other screening scenarios. Dr. Monticciolo, the study's lead researcher, emphasized the importance of annual screening beginning at age 40 as the best way to diagnose cancer early. She hopes this study will support primary care physicians in recommending annual screening for women. The research also underscored the minimal risks of screening and the significant benefits in terms of reducing mortality and increasing years of life.

Advancements in Breast Screening Techniques

As the importance of breast health and annual mammogram screenings is highlighted, it is crucial to note the advancements in breast screening techniques. Digital breast tomosynthesis has emerged as the gold standard for mammography. TRICARE, for example, covers mammograms for women over 40 without a referral. Other advancements include contrast-enhanced mammography, and high-quality treatment and care offered for breast cancer patients at medical centers like Madigan Army Medical Center and Walter Reed's Breast Care and Research Center.

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Addressing Unmet Social Needs to Promote Screening

It is also important to understand the link between unmet social needs and breast cancer screening mammography utilization and stage at diagnosis. A study found that an increasing number of unmet social needs was significantly associated with decreased screening mammography utilization and late-stage diagnosis. This emphasizes the importance of addressing these needs to promote screening utilization and early stage diagnosis, especially in vulnerable populations.

A recent study of over 300 women with breast cancer found that women with an increasing number of unmet social needs were 26 percent less likely to have mammography screening and 38 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer. This highlights the crucial role of addressing unmet social needs in promoting breast cancer screening.

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