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Publication Abstract

Authors: Tice JA, Kerlikowske K

Title: Screening and prevention of breast cancer in primary care.

Journal: Prim Care 36(3):533-58

Date: 2009 Sep

Abstract: Mammography remains the mainstay of breast cancer screening. There is little controversy that mammography reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer by about 23% among women between the ages of 50 and 69 years, although the harms associated with false-positive results and overdiagnosis limit the net benefit of mammography. Women in their 70s may have a small benefit from screening mammography, but overdiagnosis increases in this age group as do competing causes of death. While new data support a 16% reduction in breast cancer mortality for 40- to 49-year-old women after 10 years of screening, the net benefit is less compelling in part because of the lower incidence of breast cancer in this age group and because mammography is less sensitive and specific in women younger than 50 years. Digital mammography is more sensitive than film mammography in young women with similar specificity, but no improvements in breast cancer outcomes have been demonstrated. Magnetic resonance imaging may benefit the highest risk women. Randomized trials suggest that self-breast examination does more harm than good. Primary prevention with currently approved medications will have a negligible effect on breast cancer incidence. Public health efforts aimed at increasing mammography screening rates, promoting regular exercise in all women, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, and limiting postmenopausal hormone therapy may help to continue the recent trend of lower breast cancer incidence and mortality among American women.

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2013