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November 13, 1996

Screening Mammography and Risk of Breast Cancer-Reply

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Francisco

JAMA. 1996;276(18):1470-1471. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540180026020

In Reply.  —The letter by Dr Werneke emphasizes several important points of our recent publication.1 Our study addressed the ability of mammography to detect breast cancer and not whether undergoing screening mammography reduces death from breast cancer. In other words, it provides information for patients and their physicians on how well breast cancer shows up on mammography, but does not address whether finding these cancers actually saves lives. Since our study addressed the detection of breast cancer and not the efficacy of mammography, we explicitly did not make a recommendation about screening for women aged 40 to 49 years, as misconstrued by some news agencies. We stated that fewer interval cancers may be missed with annual screening mammography rather than biennial examinations and that this needs to be weighed against the increased chance of false-positive examinations. We did not infer that fewer interval cancers will result in saved lives. Among women