To increase breast cancer survival, the second leading cause of cancer
death among North American women, a patient's best hope is early detection
and aggressive treatment. The current detection tool of choice is film-screen
mammography—but clinicians and patients agree that it is a choice that
falls considerably short of ideal.
One of mammography's drawbacks is that it loses sensitivity when screening
younger women or those with dense breasts. For a 1-year screening interval,
according to US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the sensitivity
of first mammography ranges from 71% to 96%, but is substantially lower for
women in their 40s compared with older women—as low as about 50% in
some trials. Another study found mammogram sensitivity was 98.4% in women
50 years or older with fatty breasts and 83.7% in women with dense breasts
Mitka M. Researchers Seek Mammography Alternatives. JAMA. 2003;290(4):450–451. doi:10.1001/jama.290.4.450
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