Mammographic screening is a proven method for the early detection of breast cancer. The authors analyzed the impact of service mammographic screening on breast cancer mortality among British Columbia women who volunteered to be screened by the Screening Mammography Program of British Columbia. A cohort of women having at least one mammographic screen by Screening Mammography Program of British Columbia between the ages of 40 and 79 in the period 1988-2003 was identified. All cases and deaths from breast cancer occurring in British Columbia were identified from the British Columbia Cancer Registry and linked to the screening cohort. Expected deaths from breast cancer in the cohort were calculated using incidence and survival rates for British Columbia women not in the cohort. Adjustment was made for age and socioeconomic status of their area of residence at time of diagnosis. The breast cancer mortality ratio was calculated by dividing observed by expected breast cancer deaths. The mortality ratio (95% confidence interval) was 0.60 (0.55, 0.65) for all ages combined (p < 0.0001). The mortality ratio in women aged 40-49 at first screening was 0.61 (0.52, 0.71), similar to that in women over 50 (p = 0.90). Exclusion of mortality associated with breast cancers diagnosed after age 50 in women starting screening in their 40s increased the mortality ratio to 0.63 (0.52, 0.77), but it remained statistically significant. Correction for self-selection bias using estimates from the literature increased the mortality ratio for all ages to 0.76. Mammographic screening at all ages between 40 and 79 reduced subsequent mortality rates from breast cancer.
Copyright 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.