News | January 24, 2007

U.S. Mammogram Rate Drop Troubling Sign for Breast Cancer Detection

JANUARY 25, 2007 - The percentage of women 40 and older who said they had a mammogram in the previous two years dropped from 76.4 percent to 74.6 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to a study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The decline of less than two percentage points may seem small, but it could be terribly significant, said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer.
If you consider that about 80 million U.S. women should be getting a mammogram every year, that means more than one million fewer women are getting the screening test, Lichtenfeld said.
And that may mean thousands of cases of breast cancer may not be diagnosed. Women whose breast cancer is caught early have more treatment options and a better chance of beating the disease.
The decline may also at least partly explain a recent drop in U.S. breast cancer rates: It may be that if fewer women are getting mammograms, fewer cases of breast cancer are being discovered.
Some researchers instead tied the drop in breast cancer to reduced use of hormones for menopause.

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