Benefits of Mammography

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Story Updated: Dec 16, 2013

A new review on the benefits and risks of mammography is bound to add more fuel to the fiery debate over screening. Different studies each came to different conclusions about the number of women who must be screened to prevent one breast cancer death-with estimates ranging from 111 to 2,000. The researchers wanted to know why there was such a big range, so they reviewed the data and discovered the estimates were all based on different situations, from different age groups to different screening and follow-up periods. They re-examined the data using the same statistical yard stick. including similar target populations, similar exposure to screening and similar duration of follow-up. The results? When crunching the numbers this way.... mammograms proved to be a major help in finding cancer, and preventing death. The estimates for the number of women who must be screened to prevent one death dropped dramatically now ranging from 64 to 257.The researchers say these findings leave little doubt about the effectiveness of mammography though they acknowledge that the debate and differences of opinion on screening will continue.

The US Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years every 2 years.

The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the latest breakthroughs from the world of medicine.

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