ANCHOR LEAD: CAN WOMEN AT RISK FOR BREAST CANCER BE IDENTIFIED EARLY IN LIFE? ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Using magnetic resonance imaging to assess breast density, research published in the Lancet suggests that risk assessment for the development of breast cancer should start much earlier in life than is done currently. Ben Park, a breast cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.
PARK: The study looked at women anywhere from fifteen to thirty-five so it’s a pretty wide range and it seemed to suggest that there is one, a heritable type of characteristic of getting dense breasts from your mother. This is something that can change with age but because of their findings exposure to estrogen and other environmental carcinogens probably have their biggest effect in the younger years and that can adversely affect, or change a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. :28
Park says that while much evidence is emerging that MRI identifies suspicious lesions better than standard mammography, the test is much more expensive and also results in biopsies that turn out to be negative more often, so risks and benefits should be considered. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.