BCS: Mammography, Self Examination Benefit Under-50s

Annual mammography and self-breast exams validated for over-50s, and women aged 40 to 49

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Annual mammography and self-breast exams should be used for detecting breast cancer, even for women younger than 50 years, for whom routine mammography and teaching self-breast exams was not recommended by the 2009 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), according to a study presented at the 2011 Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Sept. 8 to 10 in San Francisco.

Jamie Caughran, M.D., from the Lacks Cancer Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., and colleagues investigated the impact of the 2009 USPSTF recommendations on diagnosing and treating breast cancer. De-identified data on method of detection, cancer stage, age at detection, treatment type, and patient demographics were collected from the Michigan Breast Oncology Quality Initiative for 5,903 women with breast cancer.

The investigators found that 65.5 percent of breast cancer was detected by mammography, 29.8 percent by palpation, and 4.7 percent by other methods. In 48.3 percent of the women under 50 years of age, cancers were detected by mammography; and in 46.1 percent of them, by palpation. Palpable presentations were found in younger patients, and cancers with palpable presentation were diagnosed at more advanced stages than with mammography. Breast conservation surgery was more common than mastectomy, but cancers detected by palpation were more likely to require mastectomy procedures.

"Results of this study validate the importance of annual screening mammography in women older than 50 years, and women aged 40 to 49 years recently omitted from screening guidelines," the authors write. "This study also supports the use of palpation as a method of detection."

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