International Study Shows Regular Screening Reduces Breast Cancer Deaths, Validating Intermountain Recommendations for Routine Mammograms

Jess Gomez or Bryan Packer

 (801) 507-7455 or (801) 501-2795

 8/2/2011

Results of a just-released 29-year mammography study in Sweden show that regular breast screening reduces mortality. The findings corroborate long-standing guidelines by Intermountain Healthcare physicians encouraging women to seek regular screenings.

The Swedish Two-County Trial, conducted by Dr. László Tábár, medical director of the department of mammography at Falun Central Hospital and professor of radiology at the University of Uppsala School of Medicine in Sweden began in the 1970s and followed 133,000 women who were divided into two groups. One group was invited to have routine mammograms for seven years and the other half received usual care, which didn’t include mammograms. After 29 years of close follow up, Dr. Tábár and his colleagues determined that routine breast screening was tied into a 30 percent lower risk of death from breast cancer.

Data showed that one death was prevented for every 1,300 mammograms. In other words, screening 300 women every two to three years for ten years would prevent one death from breast cancer and prevent more invasive treatment for four other women.

The study followed women ages 40-74. Women ages 40-49 received a mammogram every two years and women ages 50-74 received a mammogram about every three years.

“This Swedish study confirms what we have felt all along, that women should follow the guidelines set by the American Cancer Society,” says Brett Parkinson, MD, breast radiologist and medical director of the Janice Beesley Hartvigsen Breast Care Center at Intermountain Medical Center. “Regular mammography screening beginning at age 40 has been proven to reduce the number of deaths associated with breast cancer.”

In 2009, the announcement of the change in previous guidelines for breast cancer screening set by the United States Preventive Services Task Force caused a lot of confusion among caregivers and women in the United States. The task force reversed its longstanding guidelines and began recommending routine breast-cancer screening for women starting at age 50 instead of age 40. Intermountain as well as the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society held firm to the previous guidelines set by the task force. The task force as well as the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for early detection of breast cancer includes:

Women age 40 and older:

  • Annual mammogram
  • Annual clinical breast examination 
  • Monthly breast self-examination

Women age 30-39:

  • Clinical breast examination every three years
  • Monthly breast self-examination

The Janice Beesley Hartvigsen Breast Care Center at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray is the central diagnostic facility for several conveniently located screening sites in the Salt Lake Valley, including Alta View Hospital in Sandy, LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, and Riverton Hospital.

For more information about the Janice Beesley Hartvigsen Breast Care Center, or to schedule an appointment for a mammogram, call 801-507-7840.

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