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Breast Cancer FAQ with UC San Diego Health Experts

Breast cancer screening and available treatment options are often in the news. Here, UC San Diego’s breast cancer physicians and genetic testing experts discuss the issues. Answers were provided by:

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Breast cancer screening

There is an ongoing debate over how often a woman should get a mammogram to screen for breast cancer. What do you recommend?

Recent studies have called into question the effectiveness of mammography, with some suggesting the baseline mammogram shouldn’t be done until a woman reaches age 50.

So what should women in their 40s now do?

What about high-risk women?

Why do some organizations recommend against self exams?

Why have there been recommendations against mammography for women over 74?

Aside from mammography, what can women do to improve breast health?

BRCA gene testing and preventive mastectomies

How can a woman know if she should be tested for the BRCA genetic mutations?

Could you briefly describe the tests available to assess both breast and ovarian cancer risk?

Could you just elaborate on the initial BRCA testing that is done, and then the more elaborate testing. What do these mean exactly?

What are the options for a women who has the genetic mutation or is otherwise high risk?

Does having the genetic mutation for breast cancer mean breast cancer is inevitable?

Can you give more details about the option of preventive mastectomies?

“Stage 0” breast cancer

People are fairly familiar with stages I through IV of breast cancer, which denote the progressive size and spread of a tumor and its likely prognosis. What is stage 0 breast cancer?

What are options for women with Stage 0 breast cancer?

Does a diagnosis of stage 0 mean that the cancer is 100 percent curable?

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)

What are the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer?

Is it easier or more difficult to diagnose than other forms of breast cancer?

What is standard treatment?

Compared to other forms of breast cancer, IBC has a poor survival rate. Why is that?

Why are cases of IBC reportedly becoming more common, while other breast cancers are in decline?

What does current research say about any particular or new targets for future IBC therapies?

Future of breast cancer treatment

What does the future hold for breast cancer treatment?

Appointments & Referrals


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Family Cancer Genetics Program

Questions about BRCA or other testing? Our Family Cancer Genetics Program can help.

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