Breast cancer screening is not recommended when the risk of breast cancer is low
Researchers have now found that if women are at low risk for breast cancer, doctors and doctors should avoid screening. Such screening for breast cancer harms women more than it benefits them and leads to unnecessary tests and treatments.
In their latest study, University College London scientists found that women at low risk of breast cancer should not undergo breast cancer screening programs. Because this often leads to overdiagnosis and stress in the women concerned. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "JAMA Onkology".
Which women should go for breast cancer screening?
Only 72 percent of women who were invited to have a breast exam actually go for one. Researchers say genetic testing and educating each woman about their individual risk could result in only 70 percent of the women at highest risk being screened, while 30 percent of those at low risk would not have to go through mammography every three years.
Around 300 genetic variants are a risk factor
Selective screening would do more than harm, the experts emphasize. Not only would it reduce overdiagnosis and stress for women, it would also be more cost effective. It is known that there are approximately 300 genetic variants that are associated with breast cancer. The combination of lifestyle factors and breast cancer diseases in the family of women plays an important role, explains study author Dr. Nora Pashayan from University College London. The risk is increased, for example, by smoking, obesity, childlessness and refraining from breastfeeding, the doctor continued.
Determine the general risk of breast cancer using a genetic test
Every woman should have a genetic test done at her family doctor to determine whether she is one of the 30 percent of women at low risk of breast cancer who do not actually need screening, the scientists report. The technology is already available in the UK, but the test is not yet supported by the NHS, the experts said. The research team has been working on the risk assessment of the screening for several years. In Europe and the USA, studies are currently being carried out on women who are undergoing a breast examination. Routine genetic tests are expected to be supported by the NHS this fall. From October 1st, hospitals in the UK will be linked to specialized centers that can interpret DNA testing for patients, the authors say. This will enable drug treatments to be tailored more precisely to cancer. The process could also be beneficial for breast cancer screening.
Do women at high risk need to be examined more often?
If women are at low risk for breast cancer, it does not mean that they cannot get breast cancer, and if they are at high risk, it does not mean that women must have breast cancer. The team also examined whether women at high risk had to be screened more frequently. Some women develop fast-growing cancer in the interval between the three-year mammograms, the doctors explain.