The Future of Breast Cancer Screening
An array of high-tech detection techniques and devices is on the scientific horizon.
How Better Screening Helps High-Risk Women continued...
In the early 1990s, it was found that women with certain
mutated genes -- BRCA1 and BRCA2 -- tend to have a 50% to 85% risk of
developing breast cancer.
Since then, the issue of genetic testing has been
controversial. Some people say the presence of the mutated gene does not
necessarily mean a woman will develop breast cancer, so a positive result could
cause unwarranted concern. Plus, these genes account for relatively few cases
of breast cancer. Also, there is fear that insurance companies and employers
could discriminate against women who have the mutation.
Women who do decide to go through with genetic testing are
advised to first undergo genetic counseling to help them deal with the
information, and decide what to do about it.
Better technology for early detection could help women at high
risk tremendously, says Judy Garber, MD, director of cancer risk and prevention
at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
"Instead of deciding at 30 to have your breasts removed
because you might get breast cancer sometime in the next 50 years, maybe you
could wait until you're 60, after you've had your children and you've gone
through your life."