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Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

Early Mammography Screening Lowers Fatal Breast Cancer Risk

An analysis of data from over half a million Swedish women reveals that mammography screening reduces the rates of advanced and fatal breast cancers.


The study calculated the rates of advanced and fatal breast cancers within 10 years of diagnosis, comparing women who did and did not participate in recommended mammography screening. Results published by an international consortium of authors in Cancer show a 41% reduction in cancers fatal within 10 years of diagnosis, and a 25% reduction in incidence of advanced breast cancer, among women who participated in screening.

Suggestions that recent improvements in breast cancer treatments may make early detection less critical than before have been allayed, as this study shows that detecting cancer through mammography screening still saves lives.

Co-author Professor Stephen Duffy of the Wolfson Institute commented: “Participation in breast cancer screening substantially reduces the risk of having a fatal breast cancer. Because the comparison of participating with non-participating persons was contemporaneous—with mammography screening and breast cancer treatment belonging to the same time period—it is not affected by potential changes in treatment of breast cancer over time.”

Duffy S, Tabar L, Ming-Fang Yen A, Dean PB, Smith RA, Jonsson H et al. Mammography screening reduces the incidence rates of advanced and fatal breast cancers: Results in 549,091 women. Cancer (published online May 11, 2020. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.32859)