Optimal screening for a 23 year old with a family breast cancer history

Last Modified: May 1, 2003

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
What is the optimal screening for a 23 year old with a mother that was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29 years old? 

Answer

Kevin R. Fox, MD, Assistant Director, Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Optimal screening for such a patient would consist of regular physical examinations by a qualified breast cancer specialist. You might also be a good candidate for a research study of MRI screening of the breasts in an appropriate institution. You might also consider genetic counseling for BRCA1 or BRCA2 testing since these are associated with breast cancer development at an early age. Mammography is not a very good screening method in women less then 40 years old because the breast tissue has a very high density and makes the images difficult to interpret.



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