Breast cancer is perhaps the singular most feared cancer among women. In 2014, more than 2.8 million women had developed breast cancer. Although, chances of developing breast cancer increase exponentially if a first degree relative has it, almost 85% of the women who do develop the disease get it because of the mutations, which develop in the cells due to normal aging process.
In Mayo Clinic, each year more than 1 million women come to get biopsied for breast cancer. Of these women around 10% have a condition what is called, ‘atypical hyperplasia’ or ‘atypia’. Atypia is commonly implied for conditions where the normal architecture of a particular tissue is, somewhat, disrupted. The cells get distorted in regards of their shape and size. Structure is lost and growth pattern is relatively abnormal. And although this condition is of particular importance, since it signifies the starting point of a particularly gruesome disease, clinicians believed it to be rather benign.
Because the atypia marks the beginning of what, later on, may transform into a potentially malignant and fatal carcinoma, Dr. Lynn Hartman of the oncology department at the Mayo Clinic wanted to see the impact this particular condition.
They conducted a study where the researchers decided to observe the trends among women who had undergone biopsies between the years 1976 and 2001. They assessed all previous information of the 698 women, who had been diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia. Regular follow ups and check ups were done to assess the progression atypia.
The researchers established the fact that from the time of first biopsy, the risk of development of breast cancer increased by 1% each year. During the 12 year study period, around 143 women developed breast cancer out of 698 women. 7% had developed cancer after a 5 year period, 13% had developed it in a 10 year span and almost 30% developed it after 30 years.
Dr Hartman believes that the rate of progression to cancer, in women, can be curbed “by providing better risk prediction for this group, and tailor[ing] a woman’s clinical care to her individual level of risk.”
Since these women are at constant risk of cancer development, Dr. Hartman believes that the risk can be reduced by regular screening by MRIs and mammograms, in addition to using anti-estrogen therapies to provide women with a healthy life.