Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Women at risk of breast cancer ‘should be screened in their thirties’

Breast cancer screening should begin at 35, after trial shows it could save lives More than half a million breast cancer patient's lives saved by improvements in treatment
Melissa Porter | 13 February, 2019, 20:28

It's about finding breast cancer early and all of the new and the improved treatments combining to save lives.

It's estimated that only about half the women in the USA over 40 receive regular mammography screenings.

The American Cancer Society suggests women 40 to 44 years old should have a choice to start annual mammograms.

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.

Based on the findings, leading United Kingdom clinicians and researchers suggest that regular screening in women identified at moderate or high risk of breast cancer could be extended from ages 40-49 to also include women aged 35-39.

The report, published by The Lancet, said that data from 2,899 women screened between 2006 and 2015 was examined.

The research suggests thousands of women with a family history of breast cancer should have annual scans from the age of 35.

In total, 50 breast cancers were detected (in 49 women), of which 35 were invasive tumours. 28 of those discovered were smaller than 2cm in size, 7 had spread to the lymph nodes.

Prof Gareth Evans, the lead author of the study said that for women who did not undergo screening had fewer of the cancers discovered when they were still small.

"Recent reviews of mammography screening have focused media attention on some of the risks of mammography screening, such as call-backs for additional imaging and breast biopsies, downplaying the most important aspect of screening-that finding and treating breast cancer early saves women's lives".

"Longer-term follow-up is now required to determine the impact of this screening on women's overall survival and any impact on their future risk of primary breast cancer - while health economic analysis will be needed to assess whether such screening could be extended to both "moderate" and "high" risk women".

"In the meantime, we'd encourage any women concerned about their family history of breast cancer to speak to their GP, and to check their breasts regularly".

Breast cancer is Britain's most common cancer, affecting 55,000 women a year and killing nearly 12,000.

"Screening plays a large role in early detection of breast cancer", Schnabel said, "to allow the patients who are diagnosed early to have better and more favorable treatment methods".

An NHS England spokeswoman said an upcoming review by Professor Mike Richards will consider changes to the screening programme.