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Early detection of second breast cancers halves women's risk of death
Date:3/17/2009

with their patients."

She continued: "To our knowledge, this is the only study to have taken length-time bias into account when quantifying the impact of early, asymptomatic detection of breast cancer. This is important because slow-growing or indolent cancers have a much smaller probability of proving fatal, and this group of women will tend to be over-represented in the early-detected cancers, biasing the effect of screening to make it appear more beneficial."

In their paper, the researchers write: "Recommendations on follow-up after treatment of early breast cancer should consider our findings, which suggest that early detection of second breast cancer events improves prognosis in this ever-increasing group of women."

Prof Houssami said: "Periodic surveillance of women with BC is currently under scrutiny in some countries and questions have been raised as to the value of sustained follow-up of breast cancer survivors in some health settings. So I think this work provides a timely reminder of the potential benefit of early detection of second breast cancers and supports ongoing surveillance in this group of women."

She said that their finding that nearly 14% of second breast cancers were only detected by clinical examination and that mammograms had a sensitivity of 86% was also important. "There are health settings where new imaging (ultrasound or MRI) is advocated for screening because of the belief that mammography is not sufficient and misses too many cancers in breast cancer survivors. Our data suggest that mammography, with clinical examination, is sensitive and effective (with the caveat that the Florence centre where the study originated has established experience in mammography of at least 40 years). We feel that additional screening imaging should only be used selectively, for example, in women with extremely dense breasts, or when investigating questionable findings from the mammogram or clinical examination."

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Contact: Helen Ison
helen.ison@oxfordjournals.org
44-186-535-3043
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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