Breast cancer surveillance

Diane S. Willis, Daniel Satgé, Sheena G. Sullivan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Breast cancer is the most frequent malignant neoplasm observed among women. For the subgroup of women with learning/intellectual disability, it is unclear whether their risk for breast cancer is as high as it is for the general population. In this chapter we review the literature on breast cancer frequency and screening in women with learning disability, especially Down syndrome. The rather scant literature on the topic suggests women with learning disability may have the same or lower risk of breast cancer, but the subgroup of women with Down syndrome has a lower risk of breast cancer. The absence of adequate, good-quality epidemiological data on this topic makes it difficult to evaluate any trend of increasing or decreasing risk for these women. However, given that medical achievements have seen significant gains in life expectancy for this group, it is likely that the number of women presenting with symptomatic breast cancer is increasing, even if the rate is unchanged. Evaluation of the literature on the use of mammography screening services suggests that women with learning disability may be either deliberately or passively excluded from screening programmes. Uptake among those who are invited for mammography appears to be poor and alternatives, such as clinical breast examination, appear to be underutilised. We suggest that women with intellectual disability should not be excluded from breast cancer screening services. Increased awareness of the risks of breast cancer among general practitioners and other health personnel is needed, as is the evaluation and development of appropriate screening methods for this special-needs population.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCancer in Children and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Research Aspects
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781611221879
ISBN (Print)9781617618567
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

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