Breast screening halves death risk
Breast screening 'halves' death risk

Women who have breast screening halve their risk of dying from breast cancer, according to a study based in WA.

Although some studies have questioned the value of women having mammography, or breast X-rays, a Melbourne analysis found women who took part in the BreastScreen WA program cut their chances of dying from breast cancer by 52 per cent.

The study of more than 4000 women aged between 50 and 69 - published in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention - is the biggest of its kind in Australia and one of the biggest in the world.

BreastScreen WA medical director Liz Wylie said yesterday the results would reassure women about the value of screening.

University of Melbourne research fellow Carolyn Nickson and colleagues compared 427 women who died from breast cancer with 3650 women who were still alive.

They found mammogram screening was much lower in women who had died from breast cancer.

Professor Wylie said this finding was consistent with a similar study from South Australia and several studies from around the world that showed that on average there was a 49 per cent reduced risk of dying.

Other studies, including some from Australia, have claimed screening did not cut the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Professor Wylie said those studies did not compare outcomes for individual women.

"It is important to be able to show WA women up-to-date and accurate information that demonstrates the effectiveness of regular screening mammograms so they can make an informed decision about participating in the program," she said.

"Early detection is the key to early treatment and the free BreastScreen WA program is the best health service available to women."

BreastScreen is a free for women aged over 40 who do not have any breast symptoms.

It specifically targets women aged 50-69, an age group that is encouraged to have a mammogram every two years. Did you know? 1444 Women and 12 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in WA in 2010

The West Australian

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