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Study: Some UK Mammograms Too Infrequent

March 28, 2014
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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For nearly a third of women in the United Kingdom, according to a new study, every three years isn’t often enough for a mammogram.

The UK’s NHS Breast Screening Programme offers mammographs every three years to all women ages 47 through 73. Gareth Evans, MB, MD, professor of medical genetics and cancer epidemiology at the University of Manchester, has been studying how well such screening predicts the risk of breast cancer. At the European Breast Cancer Conference last week in Glasgow, Scotland, he presented some early results.

The Predicting Risk Of breast Cancer At Screening (PROCAS) study involves collecting extra information from women being screened. Beginning in 2009, the researchers have been gathering data about risk factors, genetics, and breast density. Dr. Evans is chief investigator.

He told the conference that screening programs should be customized according to risk factors:

Our results suggest that three-yearly [i.e., every three years] screening is very effective for about 70% of the female population, but that those women who have a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer probably require more frequent screening, particularly as more advanced cancers were detected in these women.

Dr. Evans was quoted in a news release from the European Cancer Organisation, which annually puts on the conference.

PROCAS results so far indicate that about 2 percent of women have a high risk—at least 8 percent—of developing breast cancer within 10 years. Another 28 percent have an above-average risk: more than 3.5 percent.

The greater the risk, Dr. Evans suggested, the more frequently women should receive mammograms. “Screening should be annual for the small proportion of women who have an 8 percent or greater risk of developing cancer over the next 10 years,” he said.

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A 7 tesla MRI machine gets its first reported clinical use, at least for diagnosing breast cancer. For details, see our Facebook page.

Related CME seminar (up to 24 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): Chicago International Breast Course and The Society for the Advancement of Women’s Imaging

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