Mammogram screening methods comparable


NEW YORK (Reuters Health), Jul 30 - The mammography screening policy used in the U.S. is equally effective as one used in Europe in detecting breast cancer, according to a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The results suggest that the longer screening intervals used by Europeans may be suitable for use in the U.S.

The researcher compared an "opportunistic" screening approach used in Vermont with an "organized" approach used in Norway. The former differs from the latter in that the screening is initiated by a physician's recommendation rather than by letters sent to all women in a specific age range. In addition, the screening interval is shorter with the opportunistic approach (annually versus biennially) and involves one mammogram interpreter rather than two independent readings.

In the study, Dr. Berta M. Geller, from the University of Vermont in Burlington, compared cancer rates in 45,050 women screened in Vermont and 194,430 screened in Norway.

The authors found that the two screening approaches were comparable in their ability to detect breast cancer. For every 1,000 women screened in one year, each approach identified roughly three women with breast cancer.

Moreover, the cancers detected with each approach carried roughly the same prognosis, the findings indicate.

"Our results demonstrate that despite its longer screening interval, the organized population-based screening program in Norway achieved similar outcomes as the opportunistic screening in Vermont," the authors state.

Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, August 2008.

Last Updated: 2008-07-29 16:06:53 -0400 (Reuters Health)

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