Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Frequent Mammograms Tied to Lower Risk of Breast Cancer Spread

    Patients who had scans at shorter intervals had less lymph node involvement, study found

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Kathleen Doheny

    HealthDay Reporter

    WEDNESDAY, Dec. 4, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients who have mammograms every 12 to 18 months have less chance of lymph node involvement than those who wait longer, therefore improving their outlook, according to an early new study.

    As breast cancer progresses, cancer cells may spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body, requiring more extensive treatment.

    "We found doing mammograms at intervals longer than one and a half years essentially does affect patient prognosis," said study researcher Dr. Lilian Wang. "In our study, those patients were found to have a significantly greater lymph node positivity."

    From 2007 to 2010, Wang evaluated more than 300 women, all of whom were diagnosed with breast cancer found during a routine mammogram. She divided them into three groups, based on the interval between mammograms: less than one and a half years, one and a half to three years or more than three years. Most women were in the first category.

    Wang looked to see how many women had cancer that had spread to their lymph nodes. Although nearly 9 percent of those in the shortest interval had lymph node involvement, 21 percent of those in the middle group and more than 15 percent in the longest-interval group did.

    The stage at which the cancer was diagnosed did not differ among the groups, she found.

    Although the study found an association between more frequent screenings and less lymph node involvement among breast cancer patients, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

    Wang, an assistant professor of radiology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, is scheduled to present the findings Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago.

    The best interval between routine mammograms has been a point of discussion and debate for years.

    In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent group of experts, changed their recommendations, which previously advised annual mammograms. The updated recommendations advised that women begin routine mammograms at age 50, and that every two years was an acceptable interval. Women aged 40 to 50 were advised to discuss the pros and cons of screening with their doctors.

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
     
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
     
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    VIDEO
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Article
     
    Woman getting mammogram
    Article
    Screening Tests for Women
    Article
     
    serious woman
    Article
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    QUIZ
     
    what is your cancer risk
    Article
    breast cancer survivors
    Article