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October Cancer Demystified- Importance of Mammograms

A recent study led by a team of researchers from the Netherlands shed light on the importance of a mammogram and its ability to detect breast cancer at its earliest stage. This team of researchers studied every breast cancer case registered in their country from 1999-2012 —nearly 174,000 cases!

The research team divided the data into two groups. The first group of women were diagnosed in the years 1999 through 2006.  The second group of women were diagnosed in the years 2007 through 2012. Their research showed that the breast cancer survival rate before 2006 was 91%, while after 2006 the survival rate jumped to 96%, showing an increase in survival rates of breast cancer patients.

Before 2006, the cancers were larger at diagnosis and the number of mastectomies performed was greater. After 2006, women survived longer, because the tumors were smaller when they were removed and less-invasive surgery such as lumpectomies became more common. The researchers concluded that early detection is indeed saving lives and improving survival rates.

The findings also demonstrate that consistent, high-quality care matters. The breast cancer survival rate in the Netherlands is a whopping 96 percent and is 100 percent for the very early breast cancers, compared to only 90% survival for women in the United States.

These findings tend to support the use of regular mammograms to detect breast tumors at the earliest possible stages. And the new research confirmed that when cancers are detected earlier, less aggressive surgery can be performed.

Thus, the take-home message: Start having your mammograms at age 40 and continue yearly screening indefinitely, and if possible opt for breast-conserving surgery. For more information about your breast cancer options, please feel free to call 479-648-1800 to schedule an appointment.

Posted In: Cancer Demystified by Dr. Kris Gast
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