Study finds increased breast cancer risk

Author: Sarah Wise
Published On: 09/21/2017

A new study published by Dovepress suggests women with neurofibromatosis type 1 begin screening for breast cancer at age 30 due to increased risk between ages 30 and 50.

The study, titled “Increased risk of breast cancer in neurofibromatosis type 1: current insights,” encourages women with NF1 to consider early screening with an emphasis on breast MRI with contrast and recommends they be seen in high-risk breast cancer centers screening programs.

Beverly Oberlander, who has NF1, knows the importance of screening firsthand. Oberlander was diagnosed in 2006 with aggressive stage 3 breast cancer.

“Because of my NF, my breast surgeon, oncologist, and I had quite a long discussion on the best treatment options for me,” she said. “Since we decided to try to avoid radiation, due to its negative effects on patients with NF, the decision was made to go with chemo first and then a complete mastectomy with lymph node removal.”

After eight rounds of chemo and one surgery, Oberlander had to make another difficult decision.

“There was still cancer in my breast as well as in 12 of the 15 lymph nodes, so it was decided — again after long consultations — that I had no choice but to radiate,” she said.

Although the radiation exposure is low with mammography, some NF1 patients have been shown to develop second tumors in response to therapeutic ionizing radiation.

Oberlander completed six weeks of five-day-a-week radiation that thankfully did not affect any other tumors.

“Since then, I have found myself in the position to be able to talk to—either in person or via email—others both with and without NF about fighting and beating breast cancer,” she said. “It can be done. I would be happy to talk to anyone. We can fight this battle together.”

Oberlander encourages women to check themselves for tumors in addition to being screened by a doctor.

“Arm yourself with facts, and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions,” Oberlander said. “You and your doctors are a team – and you are an equal partner in your fight. Never be afraid to discuss all your options, and remember more is being learned every day about the relationship between NF1 and breast cancer.” 

To read the full study, click here.

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