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Hölzel, Dieter; Halfter, Kathrin; Schubert-Fritschle, Gabriele; Engel, Jutta (2023): Expanding mammography screening for women aged 40–80 years: evidence from a modeling approach using real-world data. Scientific Reports, 13 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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If a mammography screening program (MS) is to be expanded, the benefit must be demonstrated for each additional age cohort. For the age interval between 40 and 80 years, the association between tumor-related and tumor-independent mortality of 21 2-year cohorts is modeled using up-to-date, valid data to determine MS outcome. Disease trajectories with and without biennial MS are extrapolated for each age cohort using the available data and knowledge on MS. The competing mortality is randomly generated for each age cohort with and without MS for a follow-up period of 20 years. Analyses of the modeled cohorts describe incremental change for each year, quantifying the changing benefits of MS. With increasing age, the proportion of tumor-independent mortality before and with metastatic disease increases and the benefit decreases. The simulations with 21 studies on the age interval 40–80 years provide four parameters to determine the benefits and costs of MS: The number of prevented deaths, required mammography screening exams (MSE) and their costs, life-years gained, and the required MSEs. If one additional MSE is offered for age groups 48/70 years, this will result in 311/320 prevented breast cancer (BC) deaths with 1742/1494 required MSEs or 8784/4168 life-years gained with 64/140 required MSEs. A rational cutoff cannot be quantified. The mortality effect of MS between 40 and 80 years is quantified in 21 steps using two metrics, number of MSEs per tumor-related mortality prevented and per life-year gained. This provides a decision support for stepwise expansions. Given this real-world evidence no rational age cutoffs for MS becomes evident. A society has to decide which MS costs, including side effects of MS for women who remain BC-free, it is willing and able to accept in order to reduce breast cancer mortality.

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