New research published in the journal Radiology reports on the advantages that multiple breast cancer screenings can have on reducing mortality rates. The study, titled, “Beneficial effect of consecutive mammography screening examinations on mortality from breast cancer: a prospective study,” was led by Professor Stephen Duffy of Queen Mary University of London.
The study aimed to take a new angle at understanding how breast cancer screenings reduce mortality. Duffy commented: "While there is ample evidence that breast cancer mortality is reduced in those who attend the screening, these results demonstrate that repeated attendance confers greater protection than attendance at a single screen. We need to ensure that the screening experience is as stress-free as possible so that people will come back."
In order to investigate the impacts of successive mammographic screening examinations on breast cancer mortality, the researchers conducted an analysis of 549,091 Swedish women eligible for screening mammography in nine counties from 1992 to 2016. By combining these data with information from cancer registries on breast cancer diagnosis, cause, and date of death, they found that “serial participants” of mammography, in other words, women who have participated multiple times in screening, had a 49% lower risk of breast cancer mortality. Serial participants also showed a 50% lower risk of death from breast cancer within 10 years of diagnosis when compared to serial nonparticipants. The researchers add that missing one or both breast cancer screenings was associated with a significantly higher risk.
Professor Laszlo Tabar of Falun Central Hospital, Sweden, explained the importance of having such a large database for this study: "This comprehensive study is the result of a long-term cooperative effort of the physicians and other professional staff in nine Swedish counties, all of whom were trained in the Falun School. The analysis of the massive dataset was masterfully handled by the statisticians of the Swedish Organized Service Screening Evaluation Group. This work adds additional evidence confirming the value of early detection of breast cancer through regular attendance at mammography screening, helping women and their physicians make informed decisions."