New recommendations for breast-cancer screening, and a new screening tool

Last week the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care released new guidelines for breast-cancer screening for Canadian women: their recommendations are now that women under 50 who have an average risk of developing breast cancer should not have routine mammograms, women 50 and older should have mammograms every two to three years, and clinical breast exams and self exams shouldn’t be used.

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Masterfile

Last week the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care released new guidelines for breast-cancer screening for Canadian women: their recommendations are now that women under 50 who have an average risk of developing breast cancer should not have routine mammograms, women 50 and older should have mammograms every two to three years, and clinical breast exams and self exams shouldn’t be used. (The new recommendations don’t apply to women with an elevated breast-cancer risk, such as those who have tested positive for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.) The new guidelines were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on November 21.

The change in screening guidelines is controversial — The Globe and Mail ran two columns this week covering the debate — and there is continuing discussion about the benefits of early detection for some cancers. But for Canadian women who do go with breast-cancer screening, Scienta Health is now offering the MetaHealthZone test from Metabolistics, which screens for breast and ovarian cancers with a urine test. The test measures 100 different metabolites in the patient’s urine and then compares those to established metabolite profiles for breast and ovarian cancers, which could indicate the presence of the cancers in their early stages. The company is working on similar tests to detect early-stage prostate, colorectal, and lung cancers.

If you’re wondering how the changes in breast-cancer screening recommendations affect you, or want to know if you are a good candidate for screening, talk to your physician.