Breast Tumor Detection Easier with Age

STANFORD, Calif., July 30 (UPI) — A U.S. researcher suggests tumors in younger women — in their 40s — are simply harder to detect using mammograms.

Sylvia K. Plevritis of Stanford University School of Medicine said poorer rates of screening sensitivity in women in their 40s versus older women is primarily due to detectability difficulties rather than a faster tumor doubling rate.

The researchers used data from 100,000 women ages 40-49 and women ages 50-69 to estimate the median tumor size detectable on a mammogram and the mean tumor growth rate.

The study, published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found using conventional mammography, there was a 79 percent reduced detection rate.

“The age-specific differences in mammographic tumor detection contribute more than age-specific differences in tumor growth rates to the lowered performance of mammography screening in younger women,” the study authors said in a statement.

The study authors noted lower breast tumor detectability might be considered a cancer risk factor and say more research is needed to establish a better relationship between breast density and breast cancer risk as well as a better understanding of the differences in tumor characteristics in dense versus non-dense breast tissue.

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