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Mammograms Save Lives: Study

When a doctor recommends that a woman go in for routine mammogram screening, the suggestion is made for more reasons than ticking off boxes on a patient’s chart. This recommendation, if followed through, can and often does save lives. The value of routine mammograms was the focus of a recent study that turned up results that might motivate women not so keen on this uncomfortable test to bite the bullet and go in.

How effective are mammograms at detecting cancers?
Researchers say very much so. While not 100-percent infallible, mammograms remain a major first line of defense against breast cancer mortality courtesy of their ability to detect many breast cancers earlier, leading to more rapid intervention and the potential to save lives. The evidence supporting the continued use of mammograms as a screening tool is, in fact, overwhelming.

Since screening became more or less routine in the 1980s, doctors have seen a reduction in breast cancer-related deaths of nearly 40 percent. What’s more, the number of large – harder to treat – tumors is on the decline thanks to more rapid detection. Studies have also found that women who go in for routine mammograms cut their risk of dying from breast cancer by nearly 50 percent.

Breast cancer remains a strong concern for women, especially as they enter middle age. With that in mind, many clinicians recommend women begin going in for routine mammograms starting around the age of 40. Doing so can lead to earlier detection and more effective treatments, as researchers point out. In addition, earlier detection may enable some women to avoid overly aggressive treatments.

Women who are concerned about breast cancer and their personal risks are strongly urged to speak with their healthcare providers. Doctors can help women understand their risks and any measures they might be able to take to lower them. They can also make recommendations in regard to screening. While 40 is the standard age for mammograms, certain risk factors may prompt earlier screening or different testing tools for some women based on factors unique to their case.

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