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A team of researchers is recommending that physicians follow up positive mammography results with more specific blood tests, as mammography often catches smaller, less aggressive tumors in the breast.
The University of California, San Francisco, researchers who conducted the study found that compared to breast cancer diagnosed 20 years ago, tumors now tend to be discovered in very early stages when they are less dangerous. This raises the question of whether women are being over-treated.
Laura Esserman, who led the investigation, said that the findings underscore the need for molecular profiling blood tests that can determine the full extent of a woman's breast cancer risk after she receives positive mammography results. This could help make sure that patients are receiving the most appropriate treatments.
"If most of the cancer we find is low risk, then we may very well be able to test a less aggressive approach for the very low-suspicion findings on mammograms that turn out to be benign. Simple follow up may be the better approach.," Esserman said.
Breast cancer rates have been rising in recent years, but the researchers said it has not been clear if this was because of an increasing prevalence in risk factors or better detection tools.
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