According to a report published online on September 7 in the BMJ, women below 30 years with a certain gene mutations are at greater risk of developing breast cancer, if they were exposed to radiation from X-rays or mammograms. The study which revealed this outcome was carried on around 2,000 women, 18 and older from United Kingdom, Netherlands and France between the years 2006 to 2009, . All these women had a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which are known to be linked with increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer. In the study 48 percent women had to undergo X-ray and 33 percent had undergone a mammogram. The average age of women at their first mammogram was 29. During the study period 43 percent of women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Thus study emphasized that women having a history of any exposure to X-ray or mammography between age 20 and 29 have an increased risk of breast cancer i.e. 43% and if the exposure is before the age of 20 then there is an increased risk of breast cancer by 62 percent, the researchers said. Researchers also revealed that for every 100 women in the age 30 with BRCAI /BRCA2 mutations, it is sure that nine will develop breast cancer when they reach 40 years of age. This number will increase five times, if they had gone for X-ray or mammography before the age 30, said Anouk Pijpe of the Netherlands Cancer Institute and colleagues. Pijpe was of the opinion that non-ionizing radiation imaging techniques like MRI be used for women who have BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations. The study authors said exposure to radiation has an established risk factor for breast cancer among women. A few countries have already cautioned their medical bodies that women under age 30 should avoid mammography, breast cancer screening.
Dr. Eva Chalas, chief of clinical cancer services at Winthrop University hospital in Mineola, N.Y. And Ma stressed that this study was carried on a small group of high-risk patients, who are sensitive to radiation and it does not apply to the general public. Experts however, disagree on the recommended frequency of screenings and the intervals between them. The experts are of the opinion that women in their 40s are at average risk of developing breast cancer and they should discuss the pros and cons with their respective doctors. American Cancer Society, however, continue to advise women 40 and older to go for yearly screening mammograms.
- X-ray poses risk of developing breast cancer in women under 30 years
- For women Women aged 50 to early 70s, mammogram is recommended every 2 years.
- Women over 71 or 75 can stop being screened, as there are no studies which highlights that it helps them.