Women at risk of breast cancer fare better with early mammography

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Women ages 30-39 with a known risk of breast cancer, like heredity, may benefit from early mammogram screening, according to a new study presented Friday at the 33rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in San Antonio, Texas.

Starting screenings sooner tended to find the cancer in an early stage, resulting in more breast cancer survivors.

The American Cancer society recommends all women start mammogram screenings at age 40.

Researchers conducted an 18-year study that started in 1990. They looked at all female breast cancer patients aged 21 to 39 in a community center, whose disease was biopsy confirmed as stage 0-4. 

The researchers grouped patients based on how the disease was detected - by patients, physicians or mammogram screening.

The majority of the cases, 81 percent, were first found by patients themselves, seven percent by physicians, and 12 percent by mammogram screening.

Mammogram screening detected most cases, 26%, in the 30 to 34 year-old age group.

In the 35-39 year-old age group, mammograms detected 65 percent. 

Technology is better than touch it seems when cancer is barely beginning. 

The researchers found mammography discovered 31 percent of cases of stage 0 breast cancer, as compared to just 2.5 percent found by manual patient or physican exams.

The study was sponsored by the Kaplan Cancer Research Fund and led by Health-stat Consulting in Seattle, WA and the Swedish Cancer Institute. 

False positive diagnosis linked to increased risk of breast cancer

Does getting a false-positive mammogram result boost your breast cancer risk within the next 2 years?

Yes say results of a new Danish study involving 60,000 women participating in the Copenhagen Mammography program, which was presented at the 33rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in San Antonio, Texas.

The program invited women ages 50 to 69 to receive a mammogram every two years.

Women who had a false positive diagnosis were 73 percent more likely to develop breast cancer before they received their next mammogram screening.

They were 33 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer over the next 17 years, compared with those who did not have false positives, the study found.

Why? Researchers said benign lesions may turn malignant after a false-positive diagnosis, according to WebMD.

Women who were falsely diagnosed with breast cancer were often subject to other invasive diagnosis procedures such as biopsy, which in itself can cause harm to the breast tissue.

My von Eular-Helpin, PhD, assistant professor of public health at the University of Copenhagen, coauthor of the study, told WebMD the overall risk was still small, only 22 out of 5080 women who had false positives ended up being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Is the radiation from mammograms causing cancer?

The breast cancer screening used today has already been known to boost breast cancer risk.

Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois  School of Public Health says on his website preventcancer.com that postmenopausal women who undergo annual screening for a ten-year period would receive exposure to about 10 rads of radiation for each breast.

According to Dr. Epstein, each rad results in one cancer case in every 100 premenstrual women. A woman with exposure to 10 rads or receiving 10 screenings in 10 years would have a 10 percent risk of developing breast cancer, or 10 percent of women would develop the disease.

The radiation-induced breast cancer accounts for 20 percent of all breast cancers annually in the United States, according to Dr. Epstein.

Reporting by David Liu and editing by Aimee Keenan-Greene 

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