Skip to main content

Radiation Fears Should not Deter Women from Mammography Screening

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-11-16 - The risk of radiation-induced breast cancer from mammography screening is slight in comparison to the benefit of expected lives saved. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Radiological Society of North America.

Main Document

The risk of radiation-induced breast cancer from mammography screening is slight in comparison to the benefit of expected lives saved, according to a new study appearing online and in the January issue of the journal Radiology.

"Recently, there have been reports in the press focusing on the potential radiation risk from mammography, particularly as used for periodic screening," said the study's lead author, Martin J. Yaffe, Ph.D., senior scientist in imaging research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, and professor in the departments of medical biophysics and medical imaging at the University of Toronto. "Our study shows that the risk of cancer associated with routine screening in women age 40 and over is very low, especially when compared to the benefits associated with early detection."

Dr. Yaffe and his colleague, James G. Mainprize, Ph.D., developed a model for estimating the risk of radiation-induced breast cancer following exposure of the breast to ionizing radiation from various screening mammography scenarios and estimated the potential number of breast cancers, fatal breast cancers, and years of life lost attributable to mammography screening.

Using a radiation dose estimate of 3.7 milligrays (mGy), which is typical for digital mammography, and a cohort of 100,000 women, the researchers applied the risk model to predict the number of radiation-induced breast cancers attributable to a single examination and then extended the model to various screening scenarios beginning and ending at different ages.

The results showed that in 100,000 women, each receiving a dose of 3.7 mGy to both breasts, annual screening from age 40 to 55 years and biennial screening thereafter to age 74 years would result in 86 radiation-induced cancers, including 11 fatal cancers, and 136 life years lost.

Conversely, for the same cohort it was estimated that 497 lives and 10,670 life years would be saved by earlier detection.

"The predicted risk of radiation-induced breast cancer from mammography screening is low in terms of the numbers of cancers induced, the number of potential deaths, and the number of years of life lost," Dr. Yaffe said. "For women over 40, the expected benefits afforded by routine screening in terms of lives saved or years of life saved greatly exceeds this risk. For these women, radiation risk should not be a deterrent from screening."

"Risk of Radiation-induced Breast Cancer from Mammographic Screening."

Radiology is edited by Herbert Y. Kressel, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., and owned and published by the Radiological Society of North America, Inc. (radiology.rsna.org/)

RSNA is an association of more than 46,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists committed to excellence in patient care through education and research. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (RSNA.org)

For patient-friendly information on mammography, visit RadiologyInfo.org



Related Information:

  1. Mammography Screening Threshold at 50 Proven Unfounded
  2. Tips for Breast Cancer Screening and Early Detection
  3. Preventive Mastectomies Pay Off for Some Women


Information from our Breast Cancer: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment section - (Full List).

Comments: We apologize but until we find a new secure & accessible comments plugin this area is not available.


     What will I receive?

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be. Also see information on blood group types and compatibility.


  1. 2016 FBI Hate Crime Statistics
  2. People Who Experience Dry Eye Soon to Have Drug-Free Solution
  3. FDA Warns About Illegal Use of Injectable Silicone for Body Contouring and Associated Health Risks
  4. What Can Twitter Reveal About People with ADHD




Citation