A New Study on Mammograms

Researchers at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands studied every Dutch breast cancer case registered between 1999 and 2012 —nearly 174,000 cases. Before 2006, they found that the survival rate was 91 percent, just slightly better than the U.S. survival rate of 90 percent. After 2006 the survival rate rose to the current 96 percent.

This was true even though Dutch doctors were using less aggressive treatments during those years.

What changed after 2006? The tumors were smaller. Most, in fact, were less than three quarters of an inch across. And that was not some change in the kinds of tumors being seen. They were caught sooner, so they were smaller.

American researchers are drawing a clear conclusion from this extensive study: frequent mammograms save lives.

Dutch women have been receiving regular free mammograms for some years, and compliance is high. This means that doctors in the Netherlands have access to consistent, regular records. The situation may be different in the United States, some doctors warn. However, Northwest Arkansas women who choose to have regular mammograms at The Breast Center can create that situation for themselves.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently recommended that women wait for mammograms till the age of 50, and have mammograms every two years after that age. Most organizations dealing with cancer, including the Society of Breast Imaging, American College of Radiology, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology — and the doctors at MANA — still favor yearly mammograms from age 40 on.

But the USPSTF isn’t arguing. Their spokesperson was quoted at WebMD as saying, “This study enforces previous information…The Task Force certainly finds mammography to reduce mortality for breast cancer.”

Contact the Breast Center today to schedule your mammogram.