Mammography linked to smaller tumors

Women aged 40 years and older with breast cancer who have at least yearly mammograms before diagnosis are more likely to have smaller tumors and a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) than those who receive less frequent or no mammograms. That means the former group are better candidates for breast-conserving treatments, according to a recent study from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

The study involved almost 1,600 women. Of those who had no previous mammography, 15% were diagnosed with DCIS, compared to 21% of the women who had mammograms less often than once a year and 26% of those who underwent yearly mammography.

While 32% of the women with no previous mammography had T1 tumors, 50% of those who received fewer than one mammogram per year and 56% of those who received yearly mammography did so. In fact, tumor size was less than 1 cm in only 8% of the first group versus 20% to 23% of the second and third groups.

As a result, breast conservation became an option for 61% of those who underwent mammography with some regularity versus 41% of the women who had never received a mammogram. Physicians recommended mastectomy to 41% of the women who never underwent the radiologic procedure and to 28% of those who did.

Freedman GM, Anderson PR, Goldstein LJ, et al. Routine mammography is associated with earlier stage disease and greater eligibility for breast conservation in breast carcinoma patients age 40 years and older. Cancer. 2003;98:918-925.

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