Breast cancer survivors in many countries, including the U.S., are recommended to undergo annual mammograms indefinitely. However, a significant British study suggests that less frequent screening yields comparable results.
U.K.’s National Health Service
Yearly screening is conducted to monitor the recurrence of cancer. However, the extensive testing involved in this process often leads to patient anxiety and financial burdens.
Janet Dunn, the chief of Take a Look At, funded using the studies arm of the U.K.’s National Health Service, has provided stable proof concerning the perfect time for ladies to lessen the frequency of mammograms every year.
According to Dunn, the goal is to offer girls clearance sooner. The findings were provided at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on Friday. Knowing that the take-a-look is unpublished and has yet to go through the whole peer overview is critical.
Breast Cancer Symposium
A study conducted by researchers involved over 5,200 women aged 50 and older who had undergone successful breast cancer surgery, primarily lumpectomies.
These participants were divided into two groups: one receiving annual mammograms and the other receiving mammograms less frequently after three years of regular screening.
Both groups achieved commendable results, exhibiting remarkably similar outcomes. After six years, an impressive 95% of individuals from both groups remained free of cancer. The survival rate for breast cancer was equally remarkable, standing at 98% for both groups.
Breast cancer specialist Dr. Laura Esserman from the University of California, San Francisco, who is currently leading research on a personalized approach to screening, expressed her admiration for the study, stating,
“This study is truly enlightening. I believe that people will be genuinely surprised.”
Corinne Leach of Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, who spearheaded the creation of a 2015 U.S. guideline recommending indefinite annual screening for these patients, stated that the new study is considered very robust. However, further research will be necessary before any changes are made to U.S. guidelines.
According to Leach, a single study usually does not significantly influence guidelines. However, this study inspires further research in this area, which could potentially lead to future changes.
The new study revealed that most women in both groups adhered to their assigned screening schedule. However, a few women in the annual group missed some screenings, while some in the less frequent group were screened earlier than anticipated.
The researchers found that the conclusions remained unchanged when they evaluated the results based on the participants’ actual behavior.
Younger Breast Cancer Survivors
Survivors are advised to resume a less frequent mammogram schedule three years post-surgery, according to Dunn. These findings are expected to impact practices in the U.K. and worldwide significantly.
The frequency of screenings varied depending on the type of surgery in the study. For women who underwent mastectomies, mammograms were conducted once every three years in the less-frequent screening group. For those who had lumpectomies, also known as breast conservation surgery, mammograms were performed every two years.
Younger breast cancer survivors who were not included in the study and often have more aggressive cancers are not affected by these findings. It is also worth noting that women who undergo a double mastectomy do not require mammograms.