MASSDEVICE ON CALL — University of California researchers recommended that women be more wary of breast cancer imaging exams, warning that excess testing may increase a women’s risk of developing breast cancer.
Reserachers dug deeper into an Institute of Medicine report on the environmental factors contributing to breast cancer, focusing on radiation exposure tied to breast cancer diagnostic imaging exams.
"The single thing that the IOM highlighted that a woman can do to lower her risk of breast cancer is to avoid unnecessary medical imaging," UC San Francisco professor Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman said in prepared remarks. "They should understand the risks and benefits and ask their doctor to explain the risks and benefits."
The IOM report concluded that there was not enough data to conclusively conform or rule out risks associated with many environmental exposures, such as beauty products, household chemicals or pesticides.
The 2 factors that were conclusively tied to increased breast cancer risk were post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy and radiation exposure from medical imaging, according to a press release.
Smith-Bindman, who wrote an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and contributed to the IOM report, advised women to ask their doctors more questions should they be recommended for a breast imaging exam, including:
- Is this scan absolutely necessary?
- Is it necessary to do it now?
- Are there other, alternative tests?
- How can I be sure the test will be done in the safest way possible?
- Will having the scan information change the management of my disease?
- Can I wait until after seeing a specialist before getting the scan?
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