Screening women at high risk of breast cancer on the basis of evidence.

  • R. Warren
  • Published 2001 in European journal of radiology


Geneticists are able to identify the risk of breast cancer. Strategies on offer include prevention, early diagnosis by screening, and prophylactic surgery. This paper analyses the evidence for offering screening. The radiation dose of mammography has been measured, but the risk is not fully known. Mammography screening of women of 40-50 years in the normal population has known effect. Little evidence is available for women under 40 years or for women with genetic susceptibility to breast cancer. Dense parenchymal pattern is associated with high grade cancers, and is both a risk factor and a reason for impaired screening sensitivity. Whether this applies to younger women or women at high risk is speculative. The pathological features of the cancers in gene carriers show differences from those occurring in normal women. This work should be correlated with imaging features. There is no literature to support the use of newer imaging methods in these women. Ultrasound and MRI avoid radiation and may be useful in dense breasts. SestaMIBI and PET scanning are not yet mature enough for screening, and may never have such a role. Any newer modality must be subjected to a formal randomised trial before being offered to screen women at high risk.

Cite this paper

@article{Warren2001ScreeningWA, title={Screening women at high risk of breast cancer on the basis of evidence.}, author={R. Warren}, journal={European journal of radiology}, year={2001}, volume={39 1}, pages={50-9} }