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Cancer. 2019 May 1;125(9):1482-1488. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31954. Epub 2019 Feb 11.

Breast cancer deaths averted over 3 decades.

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Department of Radiology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado.
Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.
Department of Radiology and Rogel Cancer Center, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Michigan.



From 1975 to 1990, female breast cancer mortality rates in the United States increased by 0.4% per year. Since 1990, breast cancer mortality rates have fallen between 1.8% and 3.4% per year, a decrease that is attributed to increased mammography screening and improved treatment.


The authors used age-adjusted female breast cancer mortality rate and population data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program to estimate the number of breast cancer deaths averted by screening mammography and improved treatment since 1989. Four different assumptions regarding background mortality rates (in the absence of screening mammography and improved treatment) were used to estimate deaths averted for women aged 40 to 84 years by taking the difference between SEER-reported mortality rates and background mortality rates for each 5-year age group, multiplied by the population for each 5-year age group. SEER data were used to estimate annual and cumulative breast cancer deaths averted in 2012 and 2015 and extrapolated SEER data were used to estimate deaths averted in 2018.


The number of single-year breast cancer deaths averted ranged from 20,860 to 33,842 in 2012, from 23,703 to 39,415 in 2015, and from 27,083 to 45,726 in 2018. Breast cancer mortality reductions ranged from 38.6% to 50.5% in 2012, from 41.5% to 54.2% in 2015, and from 45.3% to 58.3% in 2018. Cumulative breast cancer deaths averted since 1989 ranged from 237,234 to 370,402 in 2012, from 305,934 to 483,435 in 2015, and from 384,046 to 614,484 in 2018.


Since 1989, between 384,000 and 614,500 breast cancer deaths have been averted through the use of mammography screening and improved treatment.


United States; breast cancer; female; mortality rate; screening mammography; therapy; treatment


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