Bone Density Test Can Show Breast Cancer Risk

January 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
At 64, two-time breast cancer survivor Ilya Sloan doesn't ask, "why me?" but she's often wondered, "how?" "We definitely ask these questions of ourselves. What did we do? Did we have a role in this?"

University of Arizona researchers say a routine bone marrow test could provide an important clue in predicting breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women. "What we're showing in the study is that bone density may be an indicator or a marker of something else which may link to breast cancer risk," said Epidemiologist Zhao Chen, PhD, MPH.

An eight-year study of 10,000 post menopausal women looked at factors like age, race and history to estimate lifetime breast cancer risk and their hip-bone mineral density t-score.

The finding: older women with high bone density are twice as likely to develop breast cancer. "High bone density is a marker of increased risk for breast cancer. We can use that piece of information to predict your breast cancer risk in the future," said Dr. Chen.

For Ilya, every new breast cancer study holds the promise for earlier intervention; even prevention, and the hope that future generations won't have to go through what she did.

"That's the hope for my daughter and my granddaughter that we will be able to prevent and if it occurs, cure this disease," said Illya Sloan.

Doctors urge women to ask about bone scans when they have their yearly mammograms.

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