Younger Women Planning Infertility Treatments Should First Receive Mammogram Screening, Study Suggests

Younger Women Planning Infertility Treatments Should First Receive Mammogram Screening, Study Suggests
Women under age 40 who plan to use assisted reproductive technology (ART) should first receive mammogram screenings to detect asymptomatic breast cancers that may potentially get worse with infertility treatments, a study suggests. The analysis suggests that for every 1,000 women receiving ART, 13 show an undetected breast cancer in their pretreatment mammography. That is more than double the rate of cancer detection in women of the general population receiving mammography screening, the researchers said. The study, “Outcomes of screening mammography in women less than 40 prior to fertility treatment: a retrospective pilot study,” was published in the journal Clinical Imaging. With more people choosing to delay parenthood, the use of ART is becoming more common. Its use has doubled in the past decade, and current statistics indicate that approximately one of every 60 children born in the U.S. is conceived using ART. The concern is that ART often requires exposure to high levels of artificial female hormones — particularly estradiol, a form of estrogen — to increase fertility. This is especially true in women undergoing ovarian stimulation for in vitro fertilization (IVF). Some breast cancers are positive for the estrogen receptor and thrive in the presence of this female hormone. This raises concerns that infertility treatments may exacerbate the growth of yet undiagnosed breast cancers. Despite this risk, there are no specific guidelines for breast cancer screening for women who are about to begin ART. Thus, the number of abnormal screening results detected in these women is currently unknown. To fill in this knowledge gap, a team of researchers based at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) analyzed the medical records of wom
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