Public Release: 

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years

Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women

Queen Mary University of London

Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women, led in the UK by Queen Mary University of London.

The research, using data from Sweden, finds that women who chose to participate in an organised breast cancer screening programme had a 60 per cent lower risk of dying from breast cancer within 10 years after diagnosis, and a 47 per cent lower risk of dying from breast cancer within 20 years after diagnosis.

The authors say that this benefit occurs because screening detects cancers at an earlier stage, meaning that they respond much better to treatment.

The study was co-authored and funded by the American Cancer Society and appears in the American Cancer Society's peer-review journal Cancer.

In the UK, mammography screening is offered to all women aged 50-70 through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, with participation rates averaging more than 70 per cent but varying dramatically across the country, with lower rates in poorer, inner-city areas.

Senior author Professor Stephen Duffy from Queen Mary University of London said: "Recent improvements in treatments have led to reduced deaths from breast cancer. However, these new results demonstrate the vital role that screening also has to play, giving women a much greater benefit from modern treatments. We need to ensure that participation in breast screening programmes improves, especially in socio-economically deprived areas."

The study involved 52,438 women aged 40 to 69 years in the county of Dalarna, Sweden, during 39 years of the screening era (1977-2015). All patients received stage-specific treatment according to the latest national guidelines, irrespective of the mode of detection.

The investigators, led by Laszlo Tabar, M.D., of Falun Central Hospital in Sweden, used a new method to improve the evaluation of the impact of organised mammography screening on death from breast cancer, by calculating the annual incidence of breast cancers causing death within 10 years and within 20 years after breast cancer diagnosis.

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For more information, please contact:

Joel Winston
Public Relations Manager (School of Medicine and Dentistry)
Queen Mary University of London
j.winston@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 7943 / +44 (0)7970 096 188

Notes to the editor

Research paper: 'The Incidence of Fatal Breast Cancer Measures the Increased Effectiveness of Therapy in Women Participating in Mammography Screening' by László Tabár, MD; Peter B. Dean, MD; Tony Hsiu-Hsi Chen, PhD; Amy Ming-Fang Yen, PhD; Sam Li-Sheng Chen, PhD; Jean Ching-Yuan Fann, PhD; Sherry Yueh-Hsia Chiu, PhD; May Mei-Sheng Ku, MSc; Wendy Yi-Ying Wu, PhD; Chen- Yang Hsu, PhD; Yu-Ching Chen, MD; Kerri Beckmann, PhD; Robert A. Smith, PhD; and Stephen W. Duffy, MSc. Cancer. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.31840.

Available here after the embargo lifts: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.31840

About Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London is a world-leading research-intensive university with over 25,000 students representing more than 160 nationalities.

A member of the prestigious Russell Group, we work across the humanities and social sciences, medicine and dentistry, and science and engineering, with inspirational teaching directly informed by our research.

In the most recent exercise that rated research in the UK, we were ranked 5th in the country for the proportion of research outputs that were world-leading or internationally excellent. We offer more than 240 degree programmes and our reputation for excellent teaching was rewarded with a silver in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) awards.

Queen Mary's history dates back to 1785, with the foundation of the London Hospital Medical College. Our history encompasses the establishment of the People's Palace in 1887, which brought accessible education, culture and recreation to the East End of London. We also have roots in Westfield College, one of the first colleges to provide higher education to women.

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