Breast cancer awareness is everywhere today—as it rightly should be. Breast cancer affects about 1 out of every 8 women in the United States during their lifetime and 232,000 new cases are identified every year. It’s no secret: breast cancer can be a killer. You probably know at least one woman (or man) who has battled the disease, or maybe you’ve been there yourself.

The medical community continues to research breast cancer and works tirelessly to find better ways to identify and treat the disease.  According to new research conducted by the Mayo Clinic, there may be cause for doctors to change yet another breast cancer screening tool to help identify potential cancers early. The biopsy is a procedure that uses a needle to collect cells from a mass inside the breast. These cells are then studied to determine their type and what risk they may carry for breast cancer later.

Atypical Dysplasia Raises New Treatment Thought

Cells gathered from a mass in the breast may not always be cancer, but another type known as “atypical hyperplasia”. These cells are abnormal in their structure and appearance and while not cancer, have been considered a risk factor for cancer depending on where they were. If these cells were found in the duct of the breast, the mass has usually been removed. But a second type of hyperplasia occurs in the lobe of the breast—an area that makes milk—and until now has only been monitored and not surgically removed.

While doctors thought these two types of cells were different, it appears now that they may function in similar ways and require more vigilant care. According to a report by MSN, lead researchers weighed in.

“We were not so sure what to do with ALH before,” said study researcher Dr. Lynn Hartmann, a professor of oncology at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn. “This is suggesting, treat it the same as ADH. What we are saying is, it doesn’t matter which kind of abnormality.”

A Different Approach

Women with either type of dysplasia should have more aggressive monitoring and management. If surgical removal is not done, patients should see their doctor more regularly, have more frequent breast exams and mammograms, and researchers say providers should consider chemopreventive measures, or taking anti-cancer drugs to help lower the patient’s risk.

Don’t overlook your breast health. Check your breasts monthly and have regular exams by a medical professional. If you live in the Forrest Hills, New York area, come see Dr. Hessel. She will take the time to listen, and work with you to help you live a healthy, full life.