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Many Breast Cancer Patients in Their 40s Aren't 'High-Risk': Study
Date:5/3/2012

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of women in their 40s diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram had no family history of the disease, finds a new study that may add to the debate over the timing of breast cancer screening.

The researchers say their results point to the value of annual screening mammograms for women 40 to 49. But others remain unconvinced.

Family history usually means a first-degree relative with the disease (parent, sibling or child). Of those without family history who were found to have breast cancer, "64 percent of these women had invasive disease," said researcher Dr. Stamatia Destounis, a radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care Center and a clinical associate professor at the University of Rochester in New York.

Destounis was to present her findings at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting in Vancouver on Thursday.

This is one of numerous studies undertaken to determine the ideal age for women to begin screening mammograms and the appropriate intervals between screenings. In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) sparked controversy when it recommended screening mammograms every two years for women aged 50 to 74, but not younger.

The USPSTF advised women 40 to 49 at average risk of breast cancer to discuss the pros and cons with their doctors and then decide about the value of screening. That was because the task force found a small benefit for the younger women and moderate harm, such as false positive results.

However, the American Cancer Society and other organizations continue to recommend annual screening beginning at age 40.

Earlier this week, an analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that women in their 40s who have a family history of breast cancer or extremely dense breasts should consider getting a mammogram every two years.
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