Researchers at Queen Mary University in London, United Kingdom, have completed a study, the longest study to date to evaluate the benefits of breast cancer screening, which shows that the benefit of mammograms It is greater than expected because the number of lives saved increases if they are carried out annually.

In the study, whose results are published in the latest issue of the journal Radiology, more than 130,000 women from two Swedish communities were followed up, and it was observed that those who had regular mammograms had a 30% lower mortality from cancer mom, compared to those who did not pass this test.

The researchers note that, in fact, the number of women saved from breast cancer also increased with each additional year of screening. "The longer we observed, the more lives were saved," says Stephen Duffy, author of the study.

To carry out the research, the women were divided into two groups; in one of them the participants received an invitation to undergo these controls to prevent breast cancer and, in the other, they simply underwent general check-ups. The control phase of the trial lasted about seven years and, in this period, women aged 40 to 49 years were controlled every two years and those between 50 and 74 years, approximately every three years.

"Of every thousand women controlled for 10 years, three deaths from breast cancer would be prevented"

"Of every thousand women who were controlled for 10 years, three deaths from breast cancer would be prevented," Duffy said, adding that most of the deaths averted had occurred more than a decade after control began.

"This indicates that the benefits of long-term screening, in terms of preventable deaths, are more than double those often cited in short-term follow-ups," he added, adding to evidence about the long-term benefits of mammographic controls. regular

Mammography yes, but how often?

However, the new recommendations on breast cancer screening programs in the United States, published in 2009, discourage the routine use of mammograms in women aged 40 to 50 years, and indicate that those over 50 should undergo screening every two years and not annually.

The guidelines contradict years of prevention messages that highlighted the need to undergo these preventive controls after 40 years, although there are experts who suggest that this recommendation to undergo fewer mammograms "could confuse women" and generate more deaths for breast cancer.

Therefore, Duffy suggests that a reasonable control scheme would be the one that proposed radiographs every 18 months in women from 40 to 54 years, and every two years in those over 55. However, the expert adds that the new results of his study they do not focus on analyzing the frequency of controls, although "they make it clear that screening works". "Everyone should do what they think, but the combined results of all control trials show that mammography in women aged 40 to 49 reduces deaths from breast cancer," she concludes.


The Future of Cancer Screening: Public Health Approaches (November 2019).