Attending the two most recent screening appointments before a breast cancer diagnosis protects against breast cancer death, according to a Queen Mary study of over half a million Swedish women conducted over 24 years.
For women who had participated in both of their previous two screening examinations, the incidence of breast cancers proving fatal within 10 years of diagnosis was 50 per cent lower than in women who did not attend either of the last two screening examinations. Compared with women who attended only one of the two previous screens, women who attended both had a significant 22-33 per cent reduction in breast cancer mortality.
Lead author, Professor Stephen Duffy of Queen Mary’s Wolfson Institute, said: “While there is ample evidence that breast cancer mortality is reduced in those who attend 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.”
The Principal Investigator of the study, Professor László Tabár of Falun Central Hospital, Sweden, said: “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.”
The study was funded by the American Cancer Society.
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