Women advised to undergo breast cancer risk assessment at 40

50% of women studied met the American Cancer Society requirements for early mammography screening.
50% of women studied met the American Cancer Society requirements for early mammography screening.

HealthDay News — New research suggests that all women turning 40 should get a breast cancer risk assessment, since half of them may have risks that are high enough to warrant annual mammograms right away. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS), held from April 13 to 17 in Dallas.

The new study involved 909 women, none of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. All were seen as new patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital breast clinic between March 2011 and October 2015, the researchers said.

Fifty percent of these women met either the American Cancer Society (ACS) or the ASBS requirements for early mammography, lead researcher Jennifer Plichta, MD, breast surgery fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told HealthDay. That includes 39% who met the ACS criteria for above-average risk for breast cancer, and an additional 11% who met the ASBS criteria. The researchers also found that 32% of the women met the groups' eligibility standards for regular screening magnetic resonance imaging, and 25% would be eligible for genetic testing.

Breast cancer risk assessments are typically not a part of standard care for this age group, the researchers noted. Since the new guidelines lean heavily on knowing breast cancer risk, doctors need to redouble their efforts to make sure risk assessments are done for women in their early 40s, they concluded.

Reference

  1. New study finds half of all women age 40 to 44 qualify for early screening under new guidelines [news release]. Dallas, TX: The American Society of Breast Surgeons. Published April 14, 2016. Accessed April 15, 2016.
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