Tuesday, April 16, 2024

UK Considers Individualized Risk-Based Breast Cancer Screening

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The UK’s National Screening Committee is contemplating a shift towards personalized breast cancer screening based on individual risk, rather than just age. This approach, detailed in a collection of research, aims to enhance the effectiveness of breast cancer screening while reducing potential harms. Traditionally, the NHS Breast Screening Programme invites women aged 50-71 for screening every three years.

Research indicates that age is the primary breast cancer risk factor, with 8 in 10 cases occurring in women over 50. Nevertheless, around 7,500 women in their 40s are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK, sparking debates about the benefits and risks of screening younger women.

Studies suggest that extending screening to women in their 40s may save lives without significantly increasing risks. One long-term study involving over 160,000 women found that those offered screening in their 40s were 25% less likely to die of breast cancer in the first decade of the trial, with no higher risk of overdiagnosis.

Additionally, research in the collection examines factors like genetics, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and lifestyle about breast cancer risk, helping inform discussions on individualized screening. The insights aim to empower women to make informed decisions and healthcare professionals to support high-risk individuals effectively.

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