MANCHESTER – In a recent study funded by the charity, Breast Cancer Now, it has been found that younger women with a family history of breast cancer should receive annual screenings to prevent the disease earlier. The researchers analyzed that if 35-39 years of old women undergo annual mammograms, then breast cancer could be detected earlier. Currently, NHS screening starts at the age of 40 for the category of women who had a family history pertaining to the disease.
The study conducted at the University of Manchester by the charity carried out scanning of 2,899 women aged between 35-39 who have a moderate or high risk of disease. In this screening, 35 invasive breast cancer tumors of small size were detected before they could reach the lymphatic nodes. Hence, before allowing it to spread in the entire body, these small tumors could be removed permanently to prevent women from breast cancer. The charity’s chief executive, Baroness Delyth Morgan said that earlier tests could prove to be “an enormous breakthrough.”
Prof Gareth Evans, the lead author of the study said that for women who did not undergo screening had fewer of the cancers discovered when they were still small. More cancers had spread to the lymphatic system. He further said that getting a scanning done at the right age is not at all harmful for men but it could help to prevent tumors from acquiring an incurable form.
“For women with a family history, removing a non-invasive tumour so early in their lives is likely to be a cancer preventive,” Professor Evans said.
However, further analysis is needed to estimate the costs, risks and the benefits of pre-screening for breast cancer. Also, Baroness Morgan appealed to the UK government to shift the NHS screening programmes with the age of 35 to 39 for women who have a history of breast cancer. 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.
In its response, NHS England spokesperson assured to consider the possible changes to the screening programme in the review.