First results in a long-term investigation to determine whether periodic breast cancer screening with mammography and clinical examination leads to lowered breast cancer mortality provide grounds for cautious optimism. The study compares the experience in a random sample of 31,000 women, aged 40 to 64 years, offered screening examinations with the experience in a similarly constituted "control" group. There were 52 deaths due to breast cancer in the control group, as compared with 31 breast cancer deaths in the study group, in the period available for follow-up. The 3 1/2-year case fatality rates among women with histologically confirmed breast cancers reinforce the impression that screening leads to lowered mortality. More time, possibly ten years of follow-up, is needed to establish whether the effect of the screening program is short-term or long-term.
Shapiro S, Strax P, Venet L. Periodic Breast Cancer Screening in Reducing Mortality From Breast Cancer. JAMA. 1971;215(11):1777-1785. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180240027005