The use of mammograms, the traditional gold standard for detecting breast cancer in women, may actually increase a women's risk of developing the disease, a new study shows.
An ABC News report says researches have found young women with a high family history of breast cancer may raise their risk of developing breast cancer when they are exposed to diagnostic radiation sources such as mammograms and x-rays. Women who receive any type of diagnostic radiation in the chest region before the age of 30 are 90 times more likely to develop breast cancer if they are BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers. One in about every 400 women are carriers of the mutation. Those that have mammography exams prior to the age of 30 raised their risk by 43 percent according to a BMJ study.
Time quotes Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, as saying “This will raise questions and caution flags about how we treat women with (gene) mutations.”
Because of the risk associated with mammography in women with the mutation, many European countries such as Great Britain and Spain advise women to get MRIs instead of mammograms. However, a Susan G. Koman report says an MRI and mammography is recommended for women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation and women with a strong family history of breast cancer.
Breast thermography image
Dr. Sherri Tenpenny points out there is another option women have. In an article for Health Keepers magazine, Dr. Tenpenny discusses Breast Thermography as an alternative to the traditional mammography. She says the thermogram detects subtle heat changes that point to an area of evolving pathology in the breast which may or may not be cancer. A mammogram however detects a mass that has already formed in the breast. She goes on to say that by the time a mammogram locates a tumor, it has been growing for at least 5 years.
Another possible option is Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) according to a Huffinton Post report. MBI has the ability to find three times more breast tumors than mammograms by using a gamma camera. Gamma cameras find an average of 83 percent of all tumors in women with dense breasts and can find tumors as small as 3 millimeters.