New Mammogram Advice: What to Know
The United States Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of experts that publishes guidelines for preventive care, recommends that all women start regular breast cancer screenings at age 40, rather than the previous recommendation of age 50. I’m here.
Although some other medical organizations advocate annual mammograms, the committee continues to recommend screenings at 2-year intervals.
Learn more about what this means for you here.
Who will be affected by the new guidelines?
This advice applies to all “cisgender women and others assigned female at birth” who are at average risk of breast cancer and who do not have bothersome symptoms suggestive of breast cancer. This group includes women with dense breast tissue and a family history of breast cancer.
This recommendation is for people who already have breast cancer, who have a genetic mutation that increases the risk of breast cancer, who have received high doses of radiation to the chest, or who have had a breast lesion identified on a previous biopsy. does not apply.
Why did the task force change its advice?
The panel bases its advice on more recent and more comprehensive science on breast cancer in women under 50. Although no new clinical trial data were available and there was only one older trial involving a significant proportion of black women, the panel commissioned a review of screening strategies and modeling studies to conclude.
Experts also took into account the higher mortality rate among black women. A person diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s is twice as likely to die as a white woman.
Why not get an annual mammogram?
In making its recommendations, the Task Force seeks to balance the benefits of mammography (which can save lives) with the potential harms. These include false-positive results that cause anxiety and lead to additional testing or invasive procedures, and overdiagnosis (the possibility of women being treated for slow-growing, non-life-threatening “indolent” tumors). It is included. A mammogram also exposes the breast to radiation.
Mammograms save lives, but a panel study found no benefit to annual mammograms over biennial scans. His annual mammograms have not been great at detecting stage 2 cancer or other dangerous tumors. Modeling studies estimated a better benefit-to-harm ratio for biennial screening.
Will my insurance cover this?
Insurance companies are already legally required to provide full mammogram coverage each year for women who want mammograms. This recommendation doesn’t change that.
Can starting screening early save lives?
A task force review of screening strategies showed that this change could increase survival by nearly 20%. Overall, screening her 1 time every 2 years from age 40 to her 74 years would result in 1.3 additional breast cancers per 1,000 women compared with screening starting at age 50. Death can be avoided.
For black women, the benefits could be even greater, according to the commission’s report.
When can I stop screening?
Women should continue screening until age 74. After that, it is less clear as there are no data for women over 75 years of age. The consensus seems to be that if a woman is in good health and has at least another decade of life expectancy, she should continue to have mammograms.