Dr. Bentz Discusses new methods in breast-cancer risk screening
Joel Bentz, MD, discusses the rationale for breast-health screening using cytology and reviews various collection methods and guidelines for interpretation and reporting of cytology specimens in the March 2009 issue of the Medical Laboratory Observer. Currently, women are screened for the risk of developing breast cancer via family history, physical breast exam, and regular mammography for women over 40. However, clinical experience has shown that these methods are not particularly effective in identifying cancers at their earliest stages.
According to Dr. Bentz, a need exists to identify those women who are at increased risk for developing breast cancer by focusing resources on prevention strategies and earlier detection. One possible screening method is to utilize nipple-aspirate fluid or fine-needle aspiration to identify atypical epithelial cells in cytology specimens. Previous breast-biopsy studies have demonstrated that the presence of atypical epithelial cells is associated with a four- to five-fold risk of developing future breast cancer.