Impact of Early Mammographic Screening on Breast Cancer Mortality: UK Age Trial
Posted: Monday, December 21, 2020
An article published in The Lancet Oncology highlighted findings on the appropriate age range for breast cancer screening, based on the final results of the randomized trial UK Age. Sue M. Moss, PhD, of Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues gathered and analyzed data from 23 breast screening units across the UK. Although the appropriate age range for breast screening is still a well-debated topic, their findings suggest that annual mammography in women between the ages of 40 and 49, at least within the first 10 years of follow-up, resulted in reductions in breast cancer mortality.
In the UK Age trial, 160,921 women were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group. The intervention group consisted of women between the ages of 39 and 41 who underwent yearly screenings up to age 48. The control group consisted of women who received usual care, which consisted of no screening until their first National Health Service Breast Screening Program screen at approximately age 50. The primary endpoint was mortality from breast cancers, which was defined as deaths from all breast cancers diagnosed after randomization but before the first National Health Service Breast Screening Program invitation in both groups.
Overall findings revealed a significant reduction in breast cancer mortality at 10 years of follow-up, with 83 breast cancer deaths in the intervention group versus 219 deaths in the control group, (relative rate = 0.75 [95% confidence interval = 0.58–0.97]; P = .029). However, there were no significant reductions observed after more than 10 years of follow-up, with 126 deaths versus 255 deaths in the intervention and control groups, respectively (relative rate = 0.98 [0.79–1.22]; P = .86).
Based on these findings, Dr. Moss and colleagues concluded: “There was a substantial and significant reduction in breast cancer mortality, of the order of 25%, [and]…further evaluation of screening…with modern screening and treatment protocols is warranted.”
Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit thelancet.com.