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Mammography May Help Detect More Than Just the Presence of Breast Cancer


Daniel Kopans, MD, tells WebMD, "This is a very interesting observation and could have potentially important significance for treatment. It will take a while to find out whether this is a real observation, or an artifact of the way the data were examined, or just a fluke." Kopans, who was not involved in the study, is a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School. He is also director of breast imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

William Wood, MD, the chairman of the department of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, does not believe this study should affect the way physicians deal with breast cancer, at least at this time. "When you look at this in another population and have similar findings, then it may well be true. At that point you would probably would let it start to influence the way you do things." Wood reviewed the study for WebMD.

Smith does think the findings should influence current practice patterns. "Women with these casting-type calcifications should be watched very closely," he says.

Smith hopes this research will eventually lead to even better long-term survival rates in early-stage breast cancer, once the women who need more aggressive treatment are identified.

But Wood emphasizes that, at present, it's not known whether this research will be confirmed by further studies. "When this study is discussed, some people may say the research should affect the way we deal with small breast cancers. That would be premature. At present, this is not a finding, it is a hypothesis."

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