Breast Cancer Screening: Resolving the Differences in Benefits and Harms

Linda Giering, PhD*

*Medical Writer, Matawan, New Jersey.

Address correspondence to: Linda Giering, PhD. E-mail: lindagiering@gmail.com.

Disclosure statement: The author reports having no significant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.

ABSTRACT

Breast cancer (BC) is a significant healthcare issue, and screening for breast cancer remains one of the most controversial. Mammography screening is still the best approach to reduce the burden of premature death. Balancing the benefits and limitations, as well as the potential harms of mammography and other imaging modalities, along with assessing the patient's risk profile for BC and their preferences, provides the best approach to optimize screening strategies for individual women. This course will examine current screening recommendations and discuss reasons for their differences, how screening tests are assessed, the benefits and limitations of mammography, as well as the impact of combining other imaging modalities with mammography to enhance its predictive value. Other technologies and their potential impact on BC screening will also be discussed.

Over the past decade, women of color and those with lower income or education levels were less likely to receive appropriate BC screening compared with white women and the more educated and affluent. This course will explore how this gap has narrowed over time. Finally, the important role of radiologic technologists and mammographers and what they provide regarding BC screening will also be addressed, as well as how screening requires a personalized approach that integrates patient-specific and age-dependent metrics of cancer risk with selective application of specific screening technologies best suited to the patient's age, risk, and breast density.

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