The European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam has heard that thousands of cases of breast cancer are going undetected by the standard screening techniques used by the NHS.
Latest and ‘smarter’ screening techniques are more likely to show cancers in women who have denser breast tissue.
Researchers in Italy reviewed 3,200 women who have more dense breasts containing more glandular and fibrous tissue and found that seven cancers in every 1,000 women had been missed.
The conference heard that the results emphasised the need for more personalised screening particularly for the women – around 25 per cent – with denser-than-average breast tissue.
The results of the Italian study suggest that of the two million women a year screened by the NHS, around 3,500 more cancers could be identified earlier. Currently, screening identifies around 18,000 cancers a year. Ironically there are calls from some academics and specialists for less screening because they claim too many women receive treatments they do not need.
Chemo every two weeks
Once again a team of doctors in Italy have concluded that young women with breast cancer would have much higher chances of surviving for ten years if they received chemotherapy every two weeks instead of the usual three week cycle. Dr Mateos Lambertini of the Italian National Institute for Cancer Research ran a trial of 1,500 women and concluded that this given chemotherapy every two weeks were almost a third more likely to survive compared with those who had chemo every three weeks.