Results of this latest study were presented October 22 at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's (ASTRO) annual meeting in Orlando, FL.
Presenting the study was Dr. Jeffrey Bradley, lead study author from the University of Chicago.
Dr. Bradley's study focused on 869 women who were both under 50 and over 50. He said the study indicated that screening mammography was effective for all the age groups represented. "The tumors that were detected through mammography were generally smaller and less appeared aggressive under the microscope than those tumors that were detected through physical exams," Dr. Bradley said.
Mammography can detect tumors in the breast which are too small to feel, Dr. Bradley said, which makes it an effective method for detecting breast cancer early.
Dr. Bradley also said that the treatment results for women whose tumors were detected through mammography were better, because the tumors were smaller, and, therefore, easier to treat.
Earlier this year, the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology released guidelines that recommend annual screening mammography for women 40 and over. The National Cancer Institute also issued guidelines recommending screening mammography for women 40-49. In so doing, NCI reinstated the support for screening this age group, which it withdrew several years ago.
Each year more than 180,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and studies have shown that when found early the disease is treated most successfully. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with some 4,000 members. As a leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the society's goals are to advance the scientific basis of radiation therapy and to extend the benefits of radiation therapy to those with cancer.