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Breast Cancer

Mammograms

09/26/2007

Question:

My sister had breast cancer at age 30 and had both her breasts removed. I had a lumpectomy at age 35. Now ou little sister has just been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 45. My question is, I have a 22 year old daughter. I scheduled her for a baseline mamogram, but our family doctor say`s she is too young. Isn`t she very high risk? What tests if any should she have at this time?

Answer:

Yes your daughter appears to be at high risk. You should strongly consider having a consultation with a genetics specialist or have your oncologist send your blood for BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genetic testing. These are the breast cancer genes that can be detected in families. If you test positive for either gene, then your daughter could be tested to see if she has the same trait and therefore high risk of breast cancer.

If you chose not to have genetic testing, your daughter should begin regular exams/screening with a breast specialist. That MD might consider MRI with mammograms for your daughter. Mammograms alone are not very helpful in the very young-- breast tissue is too dense to give a clear picture in young women.

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Response by:

Paula  Silverman, MD Paula Silverman, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University