Input Stories

Input Stories

Panel: Women Should Start Mammograms at 40

Women should begin biannual mammograms at age 40 rather than the previously recommended 50, according to new guidance out Tuesday (The Hill).

What’s going on: “Citing the increase in breast cancer among younger women, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force changed their previous guidance, which recommended biennial mammograms starting by age 50, but said the decision for women in their 40s “should be an individual one.”

  • The recommendations of the USPSTF, a volunteer group of medical experts, are usually widely adopted.
  • The new breast cancer guidance does not apply to women with personal histories of the disease, those who are at high risk of it due to markers such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, those who were exposed to high doses of radiation in the chest area at a young age or those who have had high-risk lesions found during previous biopsies.

Why it’s important: In recent years, the rate of breast cancer among women in their 40s has increased about 2% annually, the panel said, with Black women 40% more likely to die of the disease than white women.

  • “By starting to screen all women at age 40, we can save nearly 20% more lives from breast cancer overall,” Task Force Chair Wanda Nicholson said in a bulletin put out by the group.

Yes, but … “[T]he task force said there was not enough evidence to endorse extra scans for women with dense breast tissue,” according to The Hill, which means insurers do not have to cover such procedures.

  • The American College of Radiology has long urged the panel to recommend annual mammography screenings starting at age 40.
  • Ultimately, “patients and doctors should make tailored decisions regarding the frequency of screening for breast cancer, with the option of screening annually,” Ann Partridge, director of the program for young adults with breast cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told The Hill.
View More