New evidence for breast cancer screening
According to the latest studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, it has been proved that the risk of breast cancer is higher in certain sections of women and hence, some women need to undergo mammogram more often than others do. The study has been conducted by a group headed by Dr. Steven R. Cummings from the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute and comes under Sutter Health Network. He says that the screening has to base on individual history. This research comes as new news and is another factor that has entered the debatable subject of breast cancer screening. As of now, screening for this cancer is based on age. This study argues that other factors such as breast density, lifestyle and habits and history of breast cancer in the family. Further, the researchers argued that these factors are more important considerations than age alone.
Screening now based predominantly on age
According to America Cancer Society, women are advised to undergo regular mammograms after the age of forty. In the light of surveys that have shown increased incidence of cancer in women who are below the age of forty, the guidelines are likely to be modified. Doctors recommend that screening is required every alternate year after forty. The risk may increase with age. The present study suggests that too frequent exposure to screening might cause more harm than good. Frequent exposure to radiation, the huge medical costs incurred and unnecessary anxiety tension might be causing mammogram machines to dispel a false-positive result. The doctor community, however, has reacted against the study.
Other factors to be considered before undergoing mammogram
The study elaborates on the negative effect of frequent screening on women. Instead, the study focuses on other factors that can give an idea about the health and cancer situation. One of the most prominent factors mentioned in breast density. Women who have denser breasts are more likely to contract breast cancer when compared to women whose breasts are of lower density. Higher density is indicative of low fat and more tissue, which is supposed to increase the risk of cancer. Dr. Cummings said that his team has been able to formulate the correlation between density and cancer accurately.
For the study, the team considered women who underwent mammograms at different intervals ranging from every year to never. It was found that women with higher breast density needed more frequent screening. The study also showed that those who had a family history of cancer needed to undergo mammogram at least every alternate year.