SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A new study finds mammograms could raise the chances of developing breast cancer in young women whose genes put them at a higher risk of the disease.
DeLayne Dayton of Cedar Hills is proud to be breast cancer free after surviving stage three two years ago.
"My first thought was, ‘Am I going to die and leave my children without a mother and my husband without a wife?’" she said.
The scary diagnosis and grueling treatment that followed changed her and her family's lives making her a big advocate for early detection. But new research finds mammograms, one of the big early detection tools, might do some women more harm than good.
The research by European cancer agencies finds the added radiation from mammograms and other chest radiation might actually raise the chance of breast cancer in young women who have the breast cancer genes BRCA 1 or 2. Women under 30 with the genes saw a 90 percent increase in breast cancer risk after the use of radiation.
"That makes sense because we know radiation does increase the risk of cancer,” said Dr. Saundra Buys, Medical Director of Huntsman Cancer Institute’s High Risk Breast Cancer Clinic.
Mammograms have proven to save lives and experts say they are clearly beneficial for women 50 and older who have an average risk of breast cancer. But now Dr. Buys said it may be time to revise guidelines and limit the use of mammograms for young, high-risk women.
"These specific data do make us sit back and say let's really make sure recommendations are the best”, she said.
Right now the current recommendation for young, high-risk women is to do both mammograms and MRIs. “I think with this information we have to re-think that strategy,” said Dr. Buys. “One possibility is to do MRI scans only under age 30.”
Dayton doesn’t know if she or her four daughters have the gene mutation, but she said this new information will help them make the best prevention choices down the road.
“It's an awful thing to go through and one that I would never want my children to go through,” said Dayton. "We have prepared ourselves now as a family to know what we need to look out for and they will definitely be on top of it."