Women Should Begin Annual Screening Mammography at Age 40

Women Should Begin Annual Screening Mammography at Age 40 Until recently there was only one standard for breast cancer screening in the United States: for women of average risk for breast cancer begin screening mammography at age 40 and undergo mammography annually. Now we have other guidelines from different institutions in the healthcare field, resulting in confusion in the general population. The American College of Radiology continues to endorse the original guidelines as detailed above. Here are a few important reasons why starting mammography later or having fewer mammograms is a bad idea: One in six breast cancers occur in women ages 40-49. Scientists best studies show that, for women ages 40-84, there is a 40% reduction in breast cancer death for those who participate in annual screening compared to those who do not. Even the institutions that have changed their recommendations acknowledge that the risk of breast cancer increases substantially for women beginning at age 40. These institutions acknowledge that mammograms save lives in women ages 40 and older. For women who choose to follow different screening guidelines, the protection afforded by screening mammography decreases. For example, for a woman who chooses the US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations of undergoing biennial screening ages 50-74, the mortality reduction is 23%. The American Cancer Society’s recommendations offer a 33% reduction. endtheconfusion.org is an excellent resource for more information on breast cancer screening. The best protection against breast cancer is to stick to the original guidelines!