This is a two-part Op-Ed series on breast cancer screening. Read Daniel Kopans, MD’s counterpoint here.
It is my opinion that regular high quality mammographic screening does decrease risk of death for women aged 40 and above and given the current state of the science, it should be advocated. While I advocate mammographic screening, I do worry that Americans think mammography is more effective than it is.
The U.S. has experienced a 35 percent decrease in breast cancer mortality in the past 25 years. This means a woman today has a 35 percent lower risk of dying of breast cancer compared to a woman of the same age in 1988. The decline is due in order of impact, to improvements in treatment, awareness of the disease and women finding a mass while showering or getting dressed and seeking medical help, and mammographic screening.