More than half a million deaths from breast cancer are avoided in the US
Posted on: 2019-02-22
According to a Feb. 11 news release from Science Daily, more than half a million breast cancer deaths were averted over three decades in the United States, thanks to mammography.
According to the article, “latest U.S. estimates indicate that since 1989, hundreds of thousands of women’s lives have been saved by mammography and improvements in breast cancer treatment”. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings point to progress made in early detection and management of breast cancer.
Screening mammography for the detection of breast cancer became widely available in the mid-1980s, and various effective therapies have been developed since that time. To estimate the number of breast cancer deaths averted since 1989 due to the collective effects of both screening mammography and improved treatment, R. Edward Hendrick, PhD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Jay Baker, MD, of Duke University Medical Center, and Mark Helvie, MD, of the University of Michigan Health System, analyzed breast cancer mortality data and female population data for U.S. women aged 40 to 84 years over the past three decades.
Cumulative breast cancer deaths averted from 1990 to 2015 ranged from more than 305,000 women to more than 483,000 women depending on different background mortality assumptions. When extrapolating results to 2018, cumulative breast cancer deaths averted since 1989 ranged from 384,000 to 614,500. When considering 2018 alone, an estimated 27,083 to 45,726 breast cancer deaths were averted. The investigators calculated that mammography and improved treatment decreased the expected mortality rate of breast cancer in 2018 by 45.3 to 58.3 percent.
The article shows Dr. Edward Hendrick’s speach, in which he comments on the media attention to some risks of mammography, which ends up focusing on the most important aspect of the exam that is to find and treat breast cancer of early life, saving the lives of thousands of women. He also noted that only about half of American women over the age of 40 take the test regularly, which makes early diagnosis difficult. However, his expectation is optimistic, aiming at scientific advances that will further reduce the deaths.