Young women already at high risk of developing breast cancer, due to family history or genetic mutation, could be increasing their risk for the disease by having yearly mammograms.
Drucilla Dyess, Health NEws, Dec 3, 2009
Young women already at high risk of developing breast cancer, due to family history or genetic mutation, could be increasing their risk for the disease by having yearly mammograms. Ironically, exposure to mammography radiation may be the most harmful to the very women who need them the most. Healthcare providers commonly recommend that women at high-risk for breast cancer begin having mammograms earlier in life, and to undergo them more often than women at an average risk for the disease. However, the dangers of these screenings may outweigh the benefits.
Although high doses of radiation can increase the risk of breast cancer, there is a low dose used in mammography. According to the American Cancer Society, the benefits of screening far outweigh any risk. According to Dr. Jansen-van der Weide that it was concerning to find that women whose baseline risk was already high, were put at a doubled risk. Her suggestion was for young women at high risk to avoid repeated exposure to even low-dose radiation, as the same mutation that increased their risk of breast cancer might also make the breast more susceptible to cancer caused by radiation. She stated, "For high-risk women, it's important to weigh the benefits and risks of mammography with their doctor and come together on a screening strategy, and to keep in mind that at a young age you can use an alternative screening technique like M.R.I. (magnetic resonance imaging)."
The American Cancer Society's director of cancer screening, Robert Smith, disagreed that an M.R.I. could be used in place of mammography in high-risk women. He reasoned that mammography could find tumors missed by M.R. I. just as M.R.I. could find tumors missed by mammography, and that the best-case scenario would be to use the tests together.
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