Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Studies Point to Reasons for Mammograms in 40s

    Women With Dense Breasts or a Family History of Breast Cancer May Want to Consider Screening in Their 40s
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    April 30, 2012 -- A pair of new studies aims to clear up some of the confusion over what age women should start getting routine mammograms to screen for breast cancer.

    The studies, which are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, show that a woman in her 40s who has extremely dense breasts, or who has a mother or sister with breast cancer, reaps the same benefits and drawbacks from getting regular mammograms as a woman in her 50s.

    Researchers say that meets a "threshold of risk" that may help guide women and their doctors to start regular mammograms at age 40 instead of age 50, as some current guidelines suggest.

    "They're really taking a better look and saying if you have risk factors, you should be screening at age 40 because then the benefit is there," says Stephanie Bernik, MD, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

    Bernik says she was relieved to see the new studies because she felt guidelines issued in 2009 that recommended that most women wait until age 50 to start getting regular mammograms were premature and might discourage some younger women who could benefit from the tests.

    "This is better than what they said before," says Bernick, who was not involved in the research.

    But for some researchers, it's still not enough. Since the research is preliminary and is meant more for policy makers than for individuals, one researcher called it "ivory tower" information that still isn't intended to help a younger woman make a decision.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
     
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
     
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    VIDEO
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Article
     
    Woman getting mammogram
    Article
    Screening Tests for Women
    Article
     
    serious woman
    Article
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    QUIZ
     
    what is your cancer risk
    Article
    breast cancer survivors
    Article