The study conducted at Cleveland’s University Hospitals Case Medical Center compared what happened with women ages 40 to 49 who got a regular screening mammogram with those who waited until they had a symptom such as a lump or pain.
Researchers found that cancer was diagnosed at an early stage for patients who had regular mammograms, according to the study published in the February issue of the Journal of Roentgenology. These patients had smaller tumors and were less likely to require chemotherapy or surgery.
Doctors were also better able to identify women with high-risk lesions. Detecting these lesions is important because doctors can then take steps to decrease the patient’s risk of breast cancer or recurrence.
“Our findings clearly underscore the impact of neglecting to screen women with mammography for women in their 40s,” the study’s first author Donna Plecha, MD, Director of Breast Imaging at UH Case Medical Center Seidman Cancer Center said in a news release. “Foregoing mammography for women in this age group leads to diagnoses of later stage breast cancers. We continue to support screening mammography in women between the ages of 40 and 49 years.”
The American Cancer Society recommends that women get an annual mammogram starting at age 40.