Results from new studies on the early detection, evaluation and treatment of breast cancer released during the 2009 (third) Breast Cancer Symposium, held at the San Francisco Marriott from October 8-10, 2009, highlighted that the majority of breast cancer deaths occur among women who don?t receive regular mammography.A large, retrospective population-based study has found that nearly three-quarters of breast cancer deaths occur among the minority of women who do not undergo regular screening mammograms. The study suggests that having a regular screening mammogram can help to reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer, according to lead author Blake Cady, MD, professor of surgery (emeritus) at Harvard Medical School and Brown University Medical School. ?Breast cancer mortality reductions have been seen in every country after widespread population screening with mammography was introduced. These reductions are more closely associated with the use of screening than with the use of treatment,? said Dr. Cady.Prior randomized studies have demonstrated breast cancer mortality reductions of 25 to 40% among women offered screening mammography compared to women not offered screening, because mammography helps detect breast cancers at earlier, more curable stages. Another study of women who actually received mammography indicated that breast cancer mortality was reduced by more than 50%. But the impact of this screening test on population-wide breast cancer mortality has been unclear.In this study, Dr. Cady and colleagues examined 6,997 women who did and did not undergo regular screening mammography, were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in Massachusetts between 1990 and 1999 and were followed through 2007. Regular screening was defined as two or more screening mammograms at intervals of two years or less in women with no breast cancer symptoms. Surveys in 1995 indicated that about 80 percent of Massachusetts women had received mammographic screening at least every two years.After a median of 12.5 years of follow-up, there were 461 deaths from breast cancer: 345 (74.8%) occurred in women who did not receive regular screening mammograms and 116 (25.2%) occurred in the 80 percent of women who were regularly screened. According to the researchers, extrapolating these results to the more than 192,000 women estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States in 2009, less than 5 percent of women regularly screened with mammography would be expected to die within 13 years, compared with 56 percent of those not regularly screened ? a rate similar to 1970, before the advent of mammography.?This and 3 other studies and presented remind us that mammography is one of the most powerful tools we have for improving breast cancer survival rates,? said Lori Pierce, MD, professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. ?They will also allow physicians to better tailor therapy, make treatment more tolerable and effective, and improve outcomes for patients.?Breast cancer is diagnosed in approximately 194,000 people in the United States every year. This year?s symposium will focus on a range of issues in breast cancer, including advances in targeted therapies, translational science, new diagnostic technology, and management of high-risk patients.The third annual Breast Cancer Symposium is co-sponsored by the American Society of Breast Disease, The American Society of Breast Surgeons, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, the National Consortium of Breast Centers and The Society of Surgical Oncology. Susan G. Komen for the Cure?, the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and advocates, is the primary supporter of the symposium.

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