NHS Mammography Still Effective at Reducing Breast Cancer Deaths

Dawn O'Shea

November 26, 2020

Women who undergo screening for breast cancer at least once reduce their risk of breast cancer mortality by over a third, according to an article published in the  British Journal of Cancer.

This England-wide study follows an initial pilot case-control study in London which indicated that attending mammography screening led to a mortality reduction of 39 per cent. Based on the same study protocol, an England-wide study was set up. Women aged 47-89 years who died of primary breast cancer in 2010 or 2011 were selected as cases (n=8288). Just over 15,200 control participants were matched by date of birth and screening area.

The latest data show a 37 per cent reduction in breast cancer mortality for women screened at least once, corresponding to approximately nine breast cancer deaths prevented between ages 55 and 79 for every 1000 women attending screening at ages 50-69 years.

The effect of screening within the NHS Breast Screening Programme in England was stronger and longer-lasting in women aged 65 years or over, but it remained highly relevant for younger women.

Corresponding author Professor Stephen Duffy from the Queen Mary University of London said: "The NHS Breast Screening Programme is doing its job in reducing the risk of death from breast cancer. Our results indicate that the benefit persists for 3-4 years in women aged under 65, so slippage of the three-year interval would be unsafe for these women.”

Maroni R, Massat NJ, Parmar D, Dibden A, Cuzick J, Sasieni PD, Duffy SW. A case-control study to evaluate the impact of the breast screening programme on mortality in England. Br J Cancer. 2020 Nov 23 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1038/s41416-020-01163-2. PMID: 33223536 View full text

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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