The rate of advanced breast cancer among women ages 50 to 59 is lower in provinces that perform annual mammograms in their 40s, a new study has found.
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Provinces that ended their screening program for 40-49 year olds have seen the rate of stage 4 cancer in women aged 50-59 increase by 10.3% in six years.
That comes from the study by a research team from the University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital, published in the journal Current Oncology and published on Wednesday.
At the same time, there is a lower proportion of breast cancer at stages 2, 3, and 4 in women aged 40-49 and at stages 2 and 3 in women aged 50-59 in provinces that have annual screening at 40- perform year-olds.
“This study is the first in Canada to confirm the benefits of screening at age 40 in women ages 50 to 59,” said Dr. Anna Wilkinson, co-lead author of the study and associate professor on the faculty of the University of Ottawa Medicine.
“Fifties who are not screened in their forties have more advanced stages of breast cancer. They therefore require more intensive treatments and their prognosis is less favorable compared to women diagnosed at an earlier stage,” she explained.
Lower survival rate
This research has also shown a lower survival rate in patients whose cancer was diagnosed at an advanced stage. The five-year survival rate reaches 99.8% for stage 1 cancer, compared to only 23.2% for stage 4 cancer.
“Our results are consistent with the recent update of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s guidelines in the United States, which recommend starting annual mammography as early as age 40 in average-risk women,” said Dr. Ottawa Hospital Breast Imaging Service and Professor at the University of Ottawa School of Medicine.
Today, only Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon send annual reminders to women in their forties so they can get screened.
The study analyzed data from the Canada Cancer Registry of 55,490 women aged 40 to 59 years diagnosed with breast cancer between 2010 and 2017.