Cancer radiation treatment early in life could put you at a higher risk of breast cancer

By: Stacy McCloud Email
By: Stacy McCloud Email

"At the time, it was Meg we're going to save your life and that was really my only concern," says Meg Owen as she describes her cancer experience.

Now, Meg Owen's concern is to stay cancer free.

Dr. Kevin Oeffinger describes one way researchers are hoping women like Meg will do that. "The children's oncology recommends initiating breast cancer screening at the age of 25 or 8 years after radiation with an annual mammogram and breast MRI."

With that in mind, Dr. Kevin Oeffinger, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and his colleagues, surveyed over 550 of these high risk woman about their screening habits in an attempt to measure what impact these guidelines have.

"We anticipated that because many of these women are unaware of the risks and their physicians might not be aware of the risks, that the cancer screen risks would be low, but they were much lower than we even expected, " says Dr. Oeffinger.

The study featured this week in the Journal of the American Mecical Association, found that in women ages 25 to 39, only 36 percent had a mammogram in the previous 2 years and 47 percent had never had a mammagram.

In these high risk women between teh ages of 40 and 50, just 52 percent were being regularly screened, although an annual mammogram is recommended for all women over the age of 40.

Researchers found that raising awareness of the guidelines could make a diffference.
"If a physician recommended screening for these women, especially those between 25 and 39, they were three times as more likely to have a mammogram than those who didn't have a physician recomendation, " says Dr. Oeffinger.

Having beaten cancer before, Meg Owen knows an annual mammogram may help ensure she would be able to do it again.
"For me, knowledge is power and knowing that I am at higher risk, the screening actually gives me peace of mind," says Owen.

To get more information on this study please visit http://jama.ama-assn.org/


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