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New Research Study May Lead to Personalized Approach to Breast Cancer Screenings
Date:8/10/2009

onal Cancer Institute guidelines);
  • Women who have a lifetime risk of between 10 percent and 20 percent would receive the existing standard of care of annual mammography (the average lifetime risk in the general populations is approximately 12 percent); and
  • Women who have a substantially lower-than-average lifetime risk could potentially undergo mammography less frequently than once per year.

  • San Diegan Tamara Knabb recently enrolled in the study as a way to contribute to future advances in the fight against breast cancer. "It's an opportunity to do something that might help down the line, and it takes away from the feeling of helplessness," she said. Knabb has two daughters who will begin getting their annual mammograms in the next decade or so, and hopes this research will help lead to improvements in the way they get their screenings.

    "More genetic discoveries with respect to the role of common variation and breast cancer have been made in the last two years alone than in all of previous medical research history," Murray said. "We want to see if we can take these advances and translate them into better health outcomes for patients."

    Breast cancer is the second-most common form of cancer among women in the United States (after skin cancer), with 192,370 new cases estimated for 2009 by the American Cancer Society. It is also the second-leading cause of cancer death in women (after lung cancer), with 40,170 deaths expected in 2009.

    Rare, high-risk variants such as BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 are not targeted in the PINK study. "We've known for many years that family history is a very strong predictor," Murray said. "This is the first breast cancer study to explore how predictive these lower-risk common variants are for breast cancer, either by themselves or in combination."

    Those interested in learning more about the PINK study can call
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