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A new study recently presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) suggests that mammograms taken during breast cancer screenings could potentially identify a women’s risk for coronary artery disease and therefore aid in prevention.
One of the researchers, Laurie Margolies, associate professor of radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, NY, says: “The opportunity to diagnose cardiovascular risk on mammography heralds a paradigm shift in imaging.”
A digital mammogram is an image created when X-rays pass through breast tissue. During breast cancer screenings, images of the breast are analyzed for abnormalities and assessed for changes that may have appeared since the previous screening visit.
Prof. Margolies and colleagues set out to investigate whether the amount of calcium deposits in breast arteries could be used to assess risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
From the X-ray images, it is possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can also find tiny deposits of calcium that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer.
This discovery would result more heart disease assessments but with no additional cost, time or radiation exposure to women already undergoing breast cancer screenings.
Prof. Margolies suggests that: “Providing this knowledge to patients and ordering physicians increases the opportunity for patients to take advantage of cardiovascular risk-reduction strategies while screening for breast cancer.”
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