(HealthDay News) — An annual screening mammogram starting at age 40 is the optimal strategy to avert an early breast cancer death, according to a study published in Cancer.

R. Edward Hendrick, PhD, a radiology professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, and colleagues used computer modeling to assess the 3 major mammogram recommendations: annual screening from age 40 to 84; annual screening at ages 45 to 54, then every other year from 55 to 79; or every other year from 50 to 74. The authors estimated how many lives would be saved if every US woman born in 1960 followed 1 of the 3 recommendations each year.

The researchers found that deaths from breast cancer would decrease by an average of 39.6% with annual screenings from 40 to 84. By comparison, breast cancer mortality would decline 30.8% with screening until age 79, and 23.2% with every-other-year mammography from 50 to 74. The number of lives saved from breast cancer would be 29,369 with annual screening from age 40 to 84; and 22,829 and 17,153, respectively, for the other 2 recommendations.

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“If a woman wants to maximize her chances of averting an untimely breast cancer death,” Hendrick told HealthDay, “she should start screening at age 40 and continue screening annually until her life expectancy is less than 5 to 7 years.”


Arleo EK, Hendrick RE, Helvie MA, Sickles EA. Comparison of recommendations for screening mammography using CISNET models [published August 21, 2017]. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.30842