Regular Breast Cancer Screenings Should Start At Age 40, Says US Panel

Regular Breast Cancer Screenings Should Start At Age 40, Says US Panel

USPSTF Updates Mammogram Recommendations

USPSTF Updates Mammogram Recommendations

The US Preventive Services Task Force has updated its recommendations, advising women to undergo a mammogram every other year beginning at age 40 and continuing until age 74. In light of the global trend of younger women being diagnosed with breast cancer, the US Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that mammography screening should begin at age 40, rather than the previously prescribed age of 50. This recommendation is important because of the panel's impact on public health policies and their widespread acceptance in the US, as well as because of its message to insurers and its ripple effects abroad.

What does the new recommendation emphasize?

Breast cancer screening offers the advantage of assisting in early diagnosis before the disease has spread, which lowers the chance of death from the illness.

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the second most frequent cancer among women in the US and the second largest cause of cancer-related deaths.

The task force's 2016 recommendations have been replaced with these new ones, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on April 30, 2024. Women should begin having mammograms in their 40s, according to recommendations from several organizations, such as the American Cancer Society.

The USPSTF members discovered that women between the ages of 40 and 74 who underwent biennial breast cancer screening had a lower risk of passing away from the disease. However, there wasn't enough data to assess the advantages and disadvantages of screening for women 75 years of age or older. The task group also concluded that there was not enough data to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of further screening for women with thick breasts.

The revised recommendation lists digital breast tomosynthesis, sometimes known as "3D mammography," along with conventional digital mammography as useful screening methods. All individuals who were assigned as female at birth, including cisgender women, transgender males, and nonbinary people at average risk of breast cancer, as well as those with thick breasts or a family history of the disease, are covered by the amended USPSTF recommendations.

The BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, a genetic marker or syndrome that may increase a person's risk of developing breast cancer, a history of high-dose radiation therapy to the chest, or a history of high-risk breast lesions are not covered by the updated recommendations. These people should either adhere to the regimen prescribed by their doctor or discuss what's best for them with their doctor.

“With this increasing incidence of breast cancer in women in their 40s, that points to mammography being even more beneficial,” said Dr. Wanda Nicholson, the chair of the task force.

What are Mammograms?

Mammograms, or X-ray scans of the breast, are ordered by primary care physicians or obstetrician-gynecologists for their patients. A technician at an imaging center or radiology department normally performs the procedure. Patients sandwich each breast between two plates, and a machine scans the tissue inside their breasts to produce X-ray images.

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