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December 7, 1984

Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Author Affiliations

From the Council on Scientific Affairs, Division of Scientific Activities, American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1984;252(21):3008-3011. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350210056032

THE MEANS to prevent breast cancer is not yet at hand. Breast cancer will develop in one of every 11 (9%) newborn females in her lifetime. It is estimated that in 1984 there will be 115,000 new cases found in the United States.1 Breast cancer is the most common malignant neoplasm and the leading cause of cancer death in women. Despite the lack of preventive measures, benefits from early diagnosis and treatment include a high operative cure rate, less morbidity, a need for less extensive tissue removal, and a better opportunity for rehabilitation than is seen with more advanced lesions.

The ten-year survival rate for breast cancer is best for small tumors without metastases, but survival time generally decreases with increasing tumor size and extent of axillary metastases.2 These data, summarized in the Table, support the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. The innate biologic aggressiveness of some