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Some Breast Cancers May Regress on Their Own
Date:11/25/2008

Study of women receiving mammography suggests it happens

TUESDAY, Nov. 25 (HealthDay News) - Some breast cancers may naturally disappear without treatment, a study of women undergoing mammography suggests.

The Norwegian study found that more cases of breast cancer were diagnosed after a regular screening program was put in place than before. That has led specialists to suspect that some of the diagnosed tumors would have spontaneously regressed had they not been detected and treated as the result of more rigorous mammography guidelines.

But since doctors can't yet determine which tumors might regress and which might go on to be dangerous, the finding isn't likely to change recommendations for mammography, experts said.

"The problem is, we don't know the natural history [of breast cancer]," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La. "I am sure there are some that do regress. The problem is, we can't pick up those that are going to regress. It's one of the unanswerable questions."

The study was published in the Nov. 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Cancer experts have long suspected that some cancers may grow and then, for reasons that are unclear, simply shrink again and disappear. The new breast cancer trial appears to support that notion.

The study took advantage of the fact that new biennial (once every two years) screening mammography programs were instituted throughout Europe in the 1990s. Such a program began in Norway in 1996.

Researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health tracked the incidence of breast cancer among more than 119,000 women aged 50 to 64 who participated in three rounds of biennial mammography screening between 1996 and 2001.

They then compared that data to the rates of breast cancer for almost 110,000 women of similar age between 1992 and 1997, largely '/>"/>

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