'Screen women for breast cancer every year from 35'

Grant Boone
February 13, 2019

Researchers have hailed the study an "enormous breakthrough", in the treatment of cancer. The good news is more than half of deaths linked to the disease were prevented in the US over the past three decades; however, there's a big racial gap in Georgia.

In a new prospective trial in younger women (FH02) - led by Professor Gareth Evans at The University of Manchester - 2,899 women aged 35-39 at moderate or high risk of breast cancer due to their family history were offered annual screening across 34 United Kingdom centres between 2006 and 2015.

It's estimated that only about half of USA women over 40 years old receive regular mammography screenings, which doctors say is unfortunate and potentially unsafe.

Researchers tracked 1990-2015 USA data on breast cancer deaths, along with general data, on women aged 40 to 84.

New research released Monday said more than 500,000 women's lives have been saved because of mammograms and advances in treatment.

Under current NHS guidelines, women are not regularly screened until the age of 40, but bringing testing forward would see an extra 86,000 women undergoing check-ups each year.

While there has been a slight increase in the number of women being diagnosed with breast cancer, the study showed death rates are declining.

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In this group, far fewer cancers were detected when they were still small (45%) and far more of the women's tumours had already spread to the lymph nodes.

"Over 335,000 women were diagnosed with new breast cancer in the United States in 2018", she noted, and "eight out of ten of these women have no family history of breast cancer".

Lead author Professor Gareth Evans, from the University of Manchester, said the results of the new trial were "very promising".

A specialist will consider the pattern of these familial cancers, including ages at diagnosis, and other factors such as a woman's age or any prior breast or ovarian cancers - giving an overall estimate as to whether they are at "moderate" (17-29% lifetime risk3), "high" (30% or higher lifetime risk) or "general population" risk (~11% lifetime risk).

However, only about half of women over 40 get regular mammograms.

"Our study provides evidence of just how effective the combination of early detection and modern breast cancer treatment have been in averting breast cancer deaths", said Dr. Hendrick.

"In the absence of screening, it is so important for women at increased risk to remain breast aware and to report any unusual changes in your breasts to your doctor", she said.

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