A study in the UK suggests that breast cancer survivors may not require as many mammograms following surgery.

A long-term research study conducted in Britain has revealed that regular mammograms are equally effective as infrequent screenings for breast cancer survivors in various countries, such as the U.S. Therefore, it is recommended to continue annual mammograms indefinitely.

Annual screenings are conducted to track the recurrence of cancer. This process can cause patients stress and incur expenses.

Janet Dunn from the University of Warwick, who was in charge of the study funded by the research division of the U.K.’s National Health Service, stated that there has not been substantial proof to determine when women can reduce the frequency of their annual mammograms.

The research demonstrated that receiving mammograms less frequently is just as effective as undergoing yearly screenings for breast cancer survivors aged 50 and above.

According to Dunn, the main goal is to provide women with reassurance sooner if possible. The results were being talked about on Friday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The study has not been officially reviewed by peers yet.

A group of over 5,200 women, aged 50 and above, who had previously undergone successful breast cancer surgery (predominantly lumpectomies) were observed by researchers. After three years of annual screenings, half of the participants were selected at random to receive yearly mammograms while the other half received less frequent ones.

Both sets performed successfully, achieving almost identical outcomes. After six years, 95% of individuals in both groups remained cancer-free. The survival rate for breast cancer was 98% for both groups.

“This study is incredibly enlightening,” stated Dr. Laura Esserman, a breast cancer specialist from the University of California, San Francisco who was not involved in the research but is currently leading studies on individualized screening methods. “I believe this will come as a shock to many.”

According to Corinne Leach from Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, the latest research is highly robust. However, further investigations will be necessary before any changes can be made to the current U.S. guidelines. Leach was also responsible for creating the 2015 guideline in the U.S., which recommends annual screening indefinitely for individuals with these specific conditions.

According to Leach, a single study is usually not enough to significantly impact guidelines. However, it can serve as motivation for other researchers to further investigate this topic, potentially resulting in a change.

The recent research showed that the majority of women in both categories adhered to their designated screening timetable. However, some individuals in the yearly group did not attend all of their screenings, while others in the less frequent group were screened earlier than expected. Despite these variations, the conclusions drawn by the researchers remained consistent when analyzing the actual actions of the women.

According to Dunn, survivors are able to resume a less frequent mammogram schedule three years after surgery, giving them a sense of relief. This discovery is expected to have a significant impact on medical practices in the U.K. and around the world.

What is the frequency of the less common occurrence? According to the study, it varied based on the type of surgical procedure.

Women who had undergone mastectomies in the infrequent screening group received mammograms every three years. For those who had lumpectomies, also known as breast conservation surgery, mammograms were done every two years.

The results do not pertain to breast cancer survivors who are younger, as they were not included in the research and typically have more severe forms of cancer. Additionally, women who have undergone double mastectomies do not require mammograms.

Esserman stated that it is necessary to implement a more individualized method for conducting screenings, not only for women who have never been diagnosed with breast cancer, but also for those who have had the illness before.


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