Why can't daughters get mammograms?

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Question from GHB: Why can't my daughters (ages 27 and 31) get a baseline mammogram, since I've had breast cancer? Why wait until age 40, as their doctor said?
Answers - Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. Mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer that we have at this point. Because breast tissue in young women, particularly under the age of 35 to 40, has a very large proportion of the tissue that is dense in fiber, the diagnostic accuracy of mammography in women of that age is questionable. There are several issues that should be addressed. The age at the diagnosis of your cancer is an important factor as well as the possibility of any genetic predisposition such as BRCA1 or 2, or a genetic link. I would suggest that you discuss with your surgeon and medical oncologist those issues and what I would suggest for your daughters is for them to be receiving a clinical breast exam, meaning by a physician, annually. I do obtain a baseline mammogram at the age of 35 and certainly one decade earlier than the cancer was diagnosed in the mother. If either of your daughters, regardless of age, has a mass that they feel in their breasts, that would require a workup of that specific finding. There are trials for using other modalities, such as MRI in screening very high risk patients, but that would be someone in a risk case such as BRCA1 and 2 positive patients who have the gene themselves, or in a specific incredibly high risk scenario, meaning multiple first degree relatives such as mother or sister that have breast cancer diagnosed under the age of 50 or in both breasts. I would ask your breast surgeon and medical oncologist to make a recommendation for what type of screening your daughters should be receiving based upon your history and your family tree cancer history.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Open for Your Questions featured Ruth Oratz, M.D., F.A.C.P. and moderator Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answering your questions covering a wide variety of issues relating to breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2006.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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