Mammography Saves (Hundreds of Thousands of) Lives!

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R Edward Hendrick

This post was contributed by R. Edward Hendrick, PhD, FACR, from the University of Colorado, and by Jay A. Baker, MD, from Duke University and President of the Society for Breast Imaging (SBI). Both are members of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Commission on Breast Imaging.

Along with Mark A. Helvie, MD, from the University of Michigan, we recently authored a landmark study published in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, confirming a truth that those of us in the radiology community have long known: mammography saves lives.

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Jay Baker

Over the past 30 years, up to 614,500 breast cancer deaths have been averted through the use of mammography screening and improved treatment. Up to 46,000 such deaths were prevented in 2018 alone.

Despite this strong evidence of mammography’s life-saving value, only about half of U.S. women over 40 years of age currently receive regular screening mammograms as recommended by ACR/SBI screening guidelines.

Our hope is that our findings will help women recognize that early detection and modern, personalized breast cancer treatment can save their lives. Our findings support that average-risk women get screened annually starting at age 40 and that high-risk women talk with their doctor about earlier screening.

Often, when we speak with reporters about mammography screening, they want to focus on the risk of call-backs for additional imaging and breast biopsies. We have to remind them of the overwhelming truth that, as our study shows, mammography finds breast cancers early, when treatment can be most effective.

Fortunately, the mainstream media coverage of our study – from leading outlets such as NPR, U.S. News & World Report, and CBS – represents a positive step forward in correcting misinformation and raising public awareness that early detection saves women’s lives.

We anticipate that scientific advances and innovation in mammography and treatment will further reduce breast cancer deaths and morbidity.

In the meantime, it’s important that we continue to encourage our female patients, and the women in our lives, to comply with ACR/SBI screening guidelines and continue to inform patients, payers and the public that Mammography Saves Lives!

  • How are you working to educate patients about the importance of mammography screening?
  • Join the conversation on social media using hashtags #StartAt40 and #MammographySavesLives, and by following @BreastImaging, @RadiologyACR and @MammoSaves on Twitter.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

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