A Netherlands team of researchers has concluded after a large study conducted from 1999-2012, that early detection of breast cancer with regular mammograms is still the best way to save lives.
The team studied nearly 174,000 cases of breast cancer. Before 2006, the breast cancer survival rate in the Netherlands was 91%. After 2006, the survival rate jumped to 96% because tumors were detected earlier. They were smaller when removed and less likely to have spread.
Mammograms are a controversial issue in the US with 3 different organizations weighing in on what age to start regular mammograms. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends yearly exams beginning at age 40, and even earlier if you have a strong family history or other preexisting conditions. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says to begin at age 50 and only screen every two years. The American Cancer Society has just recently updated its recommendation to begin at age 45, yearly until age 55 and then every other year, unless you are in a higher risk category.
There are several studies that suggest routine mammograms don’t necessarily save lives, even if they detect cancer earlier. This Netherlands study may contradict that finding. Even with better, targeted treatments used today, the study states “Diagnosis of breast cancer at an early tumor stage remains vital.”
Check with your insurance provider. If a yearly mammogram is covered beginning at age 40, the best thing you can do is take advantage of that benefit. The doctors at The Woman’s Clinic are here to help you live your best and most healthy life.