When is a screening mammography indicated?

Updated: Jan 31, 2017
  • Author: Muhammad Neaman Siddique, MBBS; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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In studies, mammography has clearly been shown to increase the detection of breast cancer at an earlier stage. [5] Based upon consistent data from multiple randomized trials, a strong consensus has been developed in favor of routine screening mammography for all women aged 50-69. Consensus, however, is not as strong in favor of routine screening among women aged 40-49 or women over the age of 70, and in terms of how frequently these patient populations should be screened.

Based upon pooled data form 8 trials, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has given an estimate that 1904 women aged 39-49 (credible interval, CrI 929 to 6378 women) would need to be screened to prevent one death from breast cancer after at least 11 years of observation, compared to 1339 women in their 50s (CrI 322-7455) and 377 women in their 60s (CrI 230-1050). [6] Moreover, false-positive readings are more common in younger women, both because the tests are less specific and because breast cancer occurs less commonly in that population. [7, 8]

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