This simple advance in medicine has already saved a million lives


Nowadays, breast cancer is no longer the death sentence that it was. The latest estimates show that modern medicine has saved hundreds of thousands of Americans from a cancer death, much more common before.

It is still one of the most prevalent cancers and the impact of this deadly disease can not be underestimated. But over the last three decades, its record has been dramatic.

Since 1989, about half a million deaths of women have probably been thwarted by mammography and modern breast cancer treatments – a statistic that only reinforces the critical importance of early detection.

"Our study demonstrates how the combination of early detection and modern breast cancer treatment has helped prevent breast cancer deaths," said radiologist Edward Hendrick of the University of Colorado.

Breast imaging techniques were first developed in the 1960s and since then mammograms have become essential for early detection.

Today, with the advent of digital mammography, annual breast cancer screening has become the most effective and economical tool for detecting breast cancer in women over the age of 20 years. 40 years.

During these screenings, if breast cancer is detected before its spread, the 5-year survival rate is 99%.

At the population level, the success of survival is obvious. By analyzing breast cancer mortality rates and data on the female population in American women aged 40 to 84, researchers have followed the impact of this cancer over the last three decades.

Since 1989, when screening has become widespread, between 384,000 and 614,500 deaths from breast cancer have been avoided.

Moreover, this trend is only gaining momentum. Last year alone, an estimated 27,083 to 45,726 lives were saved from breast cancer, reducing the expected death rate from 45% to 58%.Screen Capture 2019 02 11 at 10h47.15

(© 2019 American Cancer Society)

But there is still a lot to do. Although nearly all American women with breast cancer receive cancer treatment, less than half of US women over the age of 40 are screened regularly, according to medical guidelines.

"As we anticipate new scientific breakthroughs that will further reduce breast cancer mortality and morbidity, it is important that women continue to adhere to existing screening and treatment recommendations," Hendrick said.

This does not mean that mammograms are a perfect solution – far from it. These screenings are known to produce high levels of false positive results and unnecessary biopsies are well documented.

In the end, everything is a question of balance. Hendrick says that too often, the media focuses on the negative aspects of the projection while minimizing the positive aspects.

"The best long-term effect of our results would be to help women recognize that early detection and modern personalized breast cancer treatment save lives and encourage more women to to be screened every year from the age of 40, "said Hendricks.

This study was published in CANCER.

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