Risk of Mammography Radiation Found to Be Low

Benefits of routine screening seem to outweigh risk of radiation-induced breast cancer, deaths

THURSDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Among women aged 40 and older undergoing routine mammographic screening, the risk of resulting radiation-induced breast cancer is low, suggesting that women shouldn't be deterred from mammography for this concern, according to research published online Nov. 16 in Radiology.

Martin J. Yaffe, Ph.D., and James G. Mainprize, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto, analyzed data from a model including 100,000 women who received a dose of 3.7 mGy to both breasts for a standard digital mammography examination.

The researchers predicted that annual screening from ages 40 to 55, then biennially to age 74 would induce 86 breast cancers, with 11 deaths due to radiation-induced breast cancer. Among the cohort following this regimen, 136 woman-years would be lost from radiation-induced cancer, but 10,670 woman-years would be saved from the screening. The authors conclude that the small risk of radiation-induced cancer should not be a deterrent from mammography in women over 40.

"The predicted risk of radiation-induced breast cancer from mammographic screening is low in terms of the number of cancers induced, the number of potential deaths, and the number of woman-years of life lost," the researchers conclude. "For women 40 years of age and older, the expected benefit of reduction in premature mortality afforded by routine mammographic screening in terms of either lives saved or woman-years of life saved greatly exceeds this risk."

The authors disclosed financial relationships with GE Healthcare and Matakina Technology.

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