If women got mammograms starting at age 40, we'd save thousands of lives, a national health panel says
- Women should start getting mammograms at age 40, a national health panel said.
- This could potentially reduce breast cancer mortality by 20%, Dr. Carol Mangione said.
If women start getting screened for breast cancer at age 40, thousands of lives could be saved, a national health panel said in an updated recommendation document released Tuesday.
The US Preventive Services Task Force said in its new draft recommendation that women should start getting mammograms, or X-rays of the breasts, at 40 years old to screen for breast cancer.
The current guidance recommends women start getting screenings at 50, and that women aged 40-49 should make an individual decision with their doctor based on their personal needs to consider beginning screening at an earlier age. It adds that women should be getting mammograms every other year starting at age 40.
The new draft recommendation also urges more research on the benefit of using MRI technology to screen women who have dense breasts.
Dr. Carol Mangione, an internal medicine specialist at UCLA who co-authored the new recommendation and used to serve as the Chair of the US Preventive Services Task Force, told NPR the new guidelines could cut breast cancer mortality rates by 20%.
"If all women followed our new recommendation, we could reduce mortality from breast cancer in the US by about 20%," Mangione said, saving about 8,000 lives a year.
"That's a big reduction in mortality from breast cancer," she added.
The Task Force previously upped the age to start screening from 40 to 50 in 2009 out of concern that over-testing could lead to more harm than good, including biopsies that end up negative or unnecessary treatment in young women, the New York Times reported.
According to NPR, the Task Force also previously recommended women aged 40-49 consider starting screening depending on personal risk factors.
Correction: May 9, 2023 — An earlier version of this story misstated the US Preventive Services Task Force's 2016 recommendations for mammograms. The task force recommended screenings for women aged 50 to 74, and that women between 40 and 49 should make the decision based on personal needs.
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