According to a new study published in the online issue of Neurology®, women with multiple sclerosis (MS) are less likely to have breast cancers detected through routine cancer screenings than women without MS.
Researchers looked at health care data for 14.8 million people in Ontario to see if there were any individuals diagnosed with breast or colorectal cancer who also had MS. For the study, they compared 351 women with breast cancer and MS to 1,404 women with breast cancer but no MS. They also identified 54 people with colorectal cancer and MS, and compared these to 216 people with colorectal cancer and no MS.
The team discovered that routine screening revealed breast cancer in 103 (29%) of the women with MS, and in 529 (38%) of the women without MS. After controlling for age, diagnosis year, and income, they found women with MS had a 32% decreased chance of having breast cancer diagnosed through routine screening.
“Disability from MS increases with age, as does cancer risk, so it is likely that those with MS may find it more difficult to get regular mammograms as they get older,” said study author Ruth Ann Marrie, MD.
Researchers also discovered that 21% of people with MS and breast cancer, and 33% of those with MS and colorectal cancer, had a level of impairment that required long-term care. “More research is needed regarding the role of MS-related disability on screenings,” states Marrie.
One limitation was the study did not include the time period from when a person first noticed cancer symptoms to when they told their doctor. “People experiencing marginalization due to race or ethnicity have different access to cancer screening, and this may be exacerbated among people with MS,” said Marrie. She stated that race and ethnicity data were not accessible for this study and that future research should look into it.
Regular screenings can help find cancers earlier before they have a chance to spread. Below are the American Cancer Society’s recommendations on breast cancer screening:
According to the CDC, some of the warning signs of breast cancer include:
If you notice any of these symptoms or something else that concerns you, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.
If you are facing surgery for breast cancer, or are considering surgery to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer – Breast Advocate® is for you.