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

Lilly Lyzwinska was diagnosed with a brain tumour last month two months after her mother noticed personality changes

The new study estimates that regular screening plus improved treatments cut the expected rate of breast cancer death in 2018 by between 45 to 58 percent, according to the study published February 11 in the journal Cancer.

The BTHO Breast Cancer Game will also feature a survivors walk at half-time for women who have either defeated breast cancer or are now battling it.

"The amount of lives being saved is absolutely remarkable", said Dr. Freya Schnabel, a breast surgeon. To estimate the number of breast cancer deaths averted since 1989 due to the collective effects of both screening mammography and improved treatment, R. Edward Hendrick, PhD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Jay Baker, MD, of Duke University Medical Center, and Mark Helvie, MD, of the University of Michigan Health System, analyzed breast cancer mortality data and female population data for USA women aged 40 to 84 years over the past three decades.

Niki Kollia, 43, was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer one year ago after a mammogram detected tiny calcium deposits. "I don't drink, I don't smoke".

"Didn't have a family history, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I work out, my lifestyle is relatively healthy", Kollia said. They found the number of breast cancer deaths prevented during that time ranged anywhere from 305,000 to more than 483,000, depending on different approaches to interpreting the data.

But when to start breast cancer screening and how often has become a source of debate.

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Up to 86,000 women in their thirties with a family history of breast cancer should receive annual mammograms, researchers say.

A statement from the organisation said: "Breast cancer survival is at its highest ever and with improved screening a key focus of the NHS long term plan, even more cancers will be diagnosed earlier".

"The best possible long-term effect of our findings would be to help women recognize that early detection and modern, personalized breast cancer treatment saves lives, and to encourage more women to get screened annually starting at age 40", Hendrick said.

In unscreened women, just 45% of breast cancers were detected when the tumour was 2cm or smaller in size and 54% of cases had already spread to the lymph nodes.

For Kollia, that meant avoiding chemotherapy. She agreed that, in keeping with guidelines from the American Cancer Society, women aged 40 and over should consider getting regular mammograms. "It could do the same thing for you", Kollia said.

It's estimated that only about half of US women over 40 years old receive regular mammography screenings, which doctors say is unfortunate and potentially risky.

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