Women at risk of breast cancer ‘should be screened in their thirties’

Experts found that early screening led to the detection of more tumours before they had spread

Researchers have hailed the study an "enormous breakthrough", in the treatment of cancer.

The American Cancer Society suggests women 40 to 44 years old should have a choice to start annual mammograms. Women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors are often advised to be screened before 40.

With several risk prediction models in development, it is also hoped that the inclusion of information about small genetic changes that increase breast cancer risk (known as SNPs) and women's breast density could in future help give an even more accurate estimation of breast cancer risk - and could help adapt the NHS Breast Screening Programme to offer more targeted, "risk-stratified" screening.

"These are the first significant data on the benefits of screening in women aged 35-39", he said.

Niki Kollia, 43, was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer exactly a year ago after a mammogram detected tiny calcium deposits.

In this group, far fewer cancers were detected when they were still small (45%) and far more of the women's tumours had already spread to the lymph nodes.

Also, Baroness Morgan appealed to the United Kingdom government to shift the NHS screening programmes with the age of 35 to 39 for women who have a history of breast cancer.


The trial compared the results to an unscreened cohort of women aged 35-39 and at increased risk - with annual screening being shown to almost double the proportion of tumours detected before they were over 2cm in size.

Lead author Professor Evans described the results of the trial as "very promising".

He noted that now, only about half of US women over 40 years of age receive regular screening mammography. During the match-up, each player's name on their jersey will be replaced with the name of someone who has battled breast cancer.

"Our study provides evidence of just how effective the combination of early detection and modern breast cancer treatment have been in averting breast cancer deaths", said Dr. Hendrick.

"Longer-term follow-up is now required to determine the impact of this screening on women's overall survival and any impact on their future risk of primary breast cancer - while health economic analysis will be needed to assess whether such screening could be extended to both "moderate" and "high" risk women". The researchers also said that by allowing the annual mammograms for this age group of women in all four of the UK's NHS services, it could affect around 86,000 women.

An NHS England spokeswoman said an upcoming review by Professor Mike Richards will consider changes to the screening programme.

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