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Benign breast disease and young women

Posted Jan 15 2009 7:53pm
There has been a lot of information from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. I'm going to weed through it as I get time and post.

A specific type of benign breast disease (BBD) known as atypical hyperplasia substantially increases a young woman's risk of developing breast cancer, even if there is no history of breast cancer in her family, say researchers at Mayo Clinic.

Researchers say the women they studied with this kind of benign breast disease had a risk of developing breast cancer that was almost six times greater than women with no evidence of the disease.

Young women diagnosed with two other forms of BBD showed different results. Women with non-proliferative disease were only slightly at increased risk (.2 percent higher than normal) and women with proliferative disease had a risk that was doubled. A family history of breast cancer increased risk in these two groups of patients, but only slightly, the researchers say.

The average age of benign breast disease diagnosis in the 4,460 women included in this study was 39 years old. Within that group, 326 women eventually developed breast cancer. The scientists continue to follow the progress of these women.

Their research has led to a number of findings that are helping researchers predict which benign lesions will become cancerous. They have found that in the entire BBD group, women with atypical hyperplasia were more than three times more likely to develop breast cancer.

In atyical hyperplasia, an increased number of cells line the milk duct or lobule, than is typical and the cells do not look normal under a microscope, but they are not cancerous, according to Dr. Ghosh. In proliferative disease without atypia, an increased number of cells line the milk duct but they look normal. Women with non-proliferative disease have fibrocystic changes but no increase in cell number.

This study was designed to look specifically at younger women in the group, because the earlier findings suggested these women were at increased risk of developing breast cancer, especially if diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia. Among the group of 4,460 women less than 50 years old in the study, 2 percent had been diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia, 72 percent had non-proliferative disease and 26 percent had been diagnosed with proliferative disease without atypia.

Researchers found that after a median follow-up of 20 years, 326 of the women included in this study developed breast cancer. That meant the relative risk of developing the cancer was 1.5 times greater than women not diagnosed with BBD.




Source: Karl Oestreich, Mayo Clinic
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