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Personalizing breast cancer screening

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2011-07-05 14:08

Researchers now suggest the frequency of mammograms should be personalized. The recommendation comes amidst controversy about annual screening versus every two years and at what age breast cancer screening should be started and stopped.

According to a new study, it may make sense to consider several factors, including a woman’s feelings, when deciding mammogram frequency.

What the analysis found was contrary to American Cancer Society and the US Preventive Task Force guidelines which recommend one breast cancer screening every 1 or 2 years for all women.

Breast density important consideration for mammogram

Steve Cummings, MD, of the San Francisco Coordinating Center at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute – part of the Sutter Health network who led a new study says:

"Most guidelines use age as the determining factor in when, and how often, a woman should get a mammogram. “What our study shows is that other factors, particularly breast density, are just as important, if not more so, in helping a woman decide what is most appropriate for her."

Whether a woman gets her first mammogram at age 40 or age 50 should be personalized, rather than “one size fits all”

Dr. John Schousboe of the Park Nicollet Institute and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota and lead study author says mammography should not just be a clinical decision.

The researchers took breast density and risk factors into consideration in the analysis, including whether women never had a mammogram, had one yearly, every two years or every 3 to 4 years. From there they developed a model of cost effectiveness, also considering quality of life and how many extra mammograms it would take to prevent one death from breast cancer over a ten year period.

The findings for the analysis come from data included in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium and Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results of the National Cancer Institute.

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