A recent investigation provides answers to the conflicted subject on when women should get a mammogram and how often, the answer lays on the woman’s breast density according to researchers. On Monday, a team of researchers published their breast-cancer investigation in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers dedicated to breast cancer analysis are advising women to get scheduled mammograms depending on their breast tissue and risk factors. In the past few decades, breast cancer researchers have given mixed advice to their female public. Researchers have created a general doubt on the time when it’s more efficient for women to get a mammogram and how often.
As of 2013, around 230,815 women were diagnosed with the deadly disease. But the screening results depend on the risk factors such as age, ethnicity, family history and overall health.
On 2009 the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended that woman around 50 to 74 years old got a mammogram every two years. But last year, the American Cancer Society advised women to start annual exams at age 45.
Recently, women have been told that performing a mammogram every year could reduce the risks of finding an advanced breast cancer on the patient. Overall, the public has been getting mixed signals for their prevention methods, but the recent investigation might provide answers.
Breast cancer prevention methods based on breast density
The study’s findings were a data combination of different researchers who investigated patients with varying characteristics. Cancer epidemiologists in the study evaluated women based on their distinct races, ages, breast density and cancer risks.
The primary objective of the investigation was to determine when a woman must get a mammogram, at what age and how often should the tests be performed. Information such as breast cancer death statistics, life expectancy, and false-positive mammograms was taken into account.
Researchers determined that women in their fifties or older, with dense breast tissue, should get annual testing for breast cancer, taking into account their risk factors. However, these women only represent 1% of the population.
On the other hand, women with low-risk factors and low breast density can get tested for breast cancer every three years since researchers found no evidence of increased risks if not tested annually.
Amy Trentham-Dietz who is the lead author of the study explained that women that had low-risk factors and low breast density experienced more harms when evaluated yearly than benefits. Trentham who is from the University of Wisconsin explained these patients were more likely to experience follow-up studies that led to false positives and ended harming the patient with unnecessary and painful treatments.
The study was strongly orientated into breast density, which is a relatively new subject for breast cancer testing. According to Los Angeles Times, radiologists have warned oncologists about breast density and how this factor makes cancerous masses harder to spot.
Radiologists have been heard, and now when a breast cancer exam is performed, the woman’s breast data is passed by a risk calculator that determines the patient’s breast density.
The risk calculator also helps by determining the patient’s probabilities of developing the deadly disease over the next ten years. The main advice of the study is patients go to their nearest physician to determine their breast density and with their risk factors, determine when they should get screened for breast cancer.
The recent study goes by the hand with similar initiatives occurring in Europe among breast cancer investigators, who recommend intermittent screening depending on the patient. The research team was made up by specialists from different schools such as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and the Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
Reducing breast cancer risks for women with high-density levels
Even though family genetics plays an important role in the development of the disease, it is possible to reduce the possibilities of developing breast cancer. According to the CDC, there are ways to reduce the risks.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight is the main prevention for possible breast cancer patients, having a regular exercise routine is the most important factor as well as having good night sleep.
Avoiding alcoholic drinks or chemicals with carcinogens such as cigarettes can prevent the development of the disease, preventing radiation exposures, hormone replacement therapy, and oral contraceptives is recommended.