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Danish study finds mammograms don't reduce breast cancer deaths, U.S. experts disagree

Category: Breast

According to a recent comparative study, routine mammography screening may have little or no effect on breast cancer mortality rates.

While investigating a 2005 study that suggested that screening had reduced breast cancer deaths by 25 percent in Copenhagen, Nordic Cochrane Center researchers identified significant problems in the analysis and sought to undertake a more comprehensive analysis of the data.

In the new study, co-authors Karsten Jorgensen and Peter Gotzsche identified annual changes in breast cancer deaths in two areas of Denmark that offer publicly organized screening programs and compared them to the rest of the country.

The researchers found that the breast cancer mortality rate of at-risk women ages 55 to 74 declined by 1 percent per year over a 20 year period. In contrast, women living in non-screened areas saw a 2 percent reduction in breast cancer deaths over the same period.

However, the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging both recently reported that breast cancer mortality rates in the U.S. have decreased by 30 percent since 1990, which "is due largely to earlier detection of breast cancer through mammography screening."

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