NIH Press Release
National Cancer Institute

Monday, October 27, 1997

NCI Press Office
(301) 496-6641

The National Cancer Institute Launches Education Campaign
on Mammography and Breast Cancer Risk

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) today launched a new national education campaign by releasing publications and resources that are designed to provide clear, reliable information on breast cancer and mammography for women and health professionals.

NCI developed new educational materials after accepting the recommendations of its National Cancer Advisory Board in March that women in their 40s and older get screening mammograms on a regular basis, every one to two years. Richard D. Klausner, M.D., NCI director, said that NCI is committed to providing women with reliable, up-to-date information about screening mammograms and the risk factors for breast cancer. Results from several in-depth interviews and focus groups conducted by NCI revealed that many women are not aware of the fact that breast cancer risk increases with age or that most women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

To address these and other related issues, the following new materials were developed:

The new mammography brochures can be ordered by calling NCI's Cancer Information Service (CIS) at 1-800-4-CANCER. The CIS is a nationwide information and education network for patients, the public, and health professionals that also can provide information from NCI's PDQ (Physician Data Query) database about controlled, randomized clinical trials on breast cancer screening, prevention and treatment.

The new information is also available on the NCI Internet website for patients, the public, and the mass media at (click on the "About Mammograms" button). This page is part of the overall NCI website at

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, with 181,600 new cases expected this year. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death, after lung cancer, in American women. In 1997, there will be an estimated 43,900 deaths from breast cancer in the U.S.

Because screening with high-quality mammograms, along with clinical breast exams, is the most effective way to detect breast cancer as early as possible, the NCI recommends that women in their 40s and older get a mammogram on a regular basis, every one to two years. Women at increased risk for breast cancer because of personal or family history, or other risk factors should also talk to their doctors about when to begin getting regular mammograms and how often to get them.

Several studies show that regular screening mammograms can help to decrease the chance of dying from breast cancer. Estimates show that if 10,000 women age 40 were screened every year for 10 years, about four lives would be saved and regular screening of 10,000 women age 50 would save about 37 lives.

By launching this education campaign, the NCI is encouraging women to make regular screening mammograms and clinical breast exams a routine part of their health care.