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Breast Cancer Channel
Reported January 15, 2013

Breast Cancer Risk Factor

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Across the country several states are passing laws making it mandatory that women be notified they have it after getting a mammogram. While there’s debate on how important it is for women to know, one doctor thinks it could change how breast care is provided.

For Carolyn Achenbach, her hobby of gardening was a haven when she got upsetting news.

“I found out that I had breast cancer, it was pretty scary,” says Carolyn Achenbach, cancer survivor.

Nine months, a lumpectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy helped her beat it. But then…

“I did have a second cancer,” Achenbach tells Ivanhoe.

Carolyn is among the ten percent of American women with dense breast tissue. A recent study by the National Cancer Institute shows those with dense breasts were no more likely to die than patients whose tissue wasn’t as dense, but dense tissue has been associated with a four to six-fold increase in a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer; partly because tumors in dense tissue can be harder to spot with a mammogram.

“Mammography is the most effective tool that we have for detecting breast cancer. The way we measure breast density is not very good,” says Jennifer Harvey, M.D., a Professor of Radiology and Director of Breast Imaging at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Harvey is a breast imaging expert. She says right now there is no easy way to measure breast density. So, she’s developing something to help women better understand their cancer risk.

“Our goal in this study is that we are going to include breast density into a risk model. It will be here is your result and here is you risk of breast cancer,” explains Dr. Harvey.

The doctor believes the personalized model could help women determine how often they should get mammograms, instead of relying on age-based recommendations. Carolyn fought her second battle with cancer and won and she still gets a mammogram every year.

The first phase of Dr. Harvey’s risk model study is being funded by a five and a half million dollar government grant. It will continue to be developed over the next three years. If successful, the model could be available for widespread use within six years.

For additional research on this article, click here.

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If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew McIntosh at amcintosh@ivanhoe.com.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Jennifer A. Harvey, M.D., F.A.C.R., Professor of Radiology

University of Virginia Health System

jah7w@virginia.edu

(434) 982-1036

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How to Find a Qualified Mammography Provider

For the nearest FDA-certified mammography provider, or to check the status of your imaging center, call the NCI's CIS at (800) 4-CANCER.

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