(CTN News) – Breast cancer survivors in many countries, including the US, are recommended to undergo annual mammograms indefinitely. However, a recent extensive study conducted in the UK suggests that less frequent screening is equally effective.
The purpose of yearly screening is to monitor the potential recurrence of cancer. However, this frequent testing can cause anxiety for patients and also incur significant costs.
According to Janet Dunn, the lead researcher from the University of Warwick, solid evidence regarding when women can reduce the frequency of mammograms has been lacking until now. The study was funded by the research arm of the UK’s National Health Service.
The study demonstrated that less frequent mammograms are just as effective as an annual schedule for breast cancer survivors aged 50 and above.
Dunn emphasized the importance of providing women with the assurance of being cancer-free at an earlier stage, if possible. These findings were presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and have yet to undergo a full peer review as the study remains unpublished.
The research involved over 5,200 women who were 50 years old or older and had previously undergone successful breast cancer surgery, primarily lumpectomies.
After three years of annual screening, half of the participants were randomly assigned to receive mammograms every year, while the other half received less frequent screenings.
Both groups achieved similar outcomes, with 95 percent of individuals remaining cancer-free after six years and a 98 percent survival rate for breast cancer.
Dr. Laura Esserman, a breast cancer specialist, described the study as “eye-opening” and believes it will surprise many. While the study is strong, further research is needed to change US guidelines. The study serves as inspiration for future research in this area.
The conclusions remained consistent even when analyzing the data based on the actual actions of the women.
Survivors can now breathe a sigh of relief as they resume a less frequent mammogram schedule three years after surgery, according to Dunn.
These findings will significantly impact medical practice globally. Mammogram frequency varied based on surgery type, with mastectomy patients having them every three years and lumpectomy patients every two years. Younger survivors and those who had double mastectomies were not included in the study.
Esserman stressed the importance of personalized screening for all women, not just those without a history of breast cancer.