February 28, 2019 – Less Breast Cancer Death


Anchor lead: Screening and treatment have led to many fewer deaths from breast cancer, Elizabeth Tracey reports

A huge national database called Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results has revealed great news: many fewer women have died from breast cancer than would have before improvements in screening and treatment. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer at Johns Hopkins, describes the data.

Nelson: Somewhere between three hundred and eighty four to six hundred fourteen thousand breast cancer deaths have been averted from 1989, 1990 to 2015. If you just look at 2018 the guess is 27 to 46,000 deaths have been averted. They attribute a lot of this to screening with mammography. Certainly that brings a lot of breast cancer to attention and breast cancer that’s detected in that way is clearly more amenable to treatment.  :27

Nelson says early detection via screening accounts for some of the reduced deaths but that treatment advances have also been substantial, as has identification of risk factors for breast cancer. He says the good news is that these advances have rendered breast cancer more of a chronic disease for most. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.