Mammograms and Women in Their 40s
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening every 2 years for all after the age of 50
By Dennis Thompson
MONDAY, Jan. 11, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Women in their 40s should talk with their doctors and then decide whether they need regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer before the recommended age of 50, according to updated U.S. health guidelines released Monday.
The finalized guidelines, released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and published simultaneously in the Annals of Internal Medicine, largely reiterate controversial recommendations that were first put into place in 2009.
These latest guidelines still recommend mammograms to screen for breast cancer every two years for women aged 50 to 74.
They also suggest that women in their 40s should make a decision whether or not to receive mammograms every two years after talking about their individual risk factors with their doctors.
"We want to be able to empower women with the science, so they can understand the potential benefits as well as the potential harms, and make the decision that's right for them based on their own values, preferences and personal health history," Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, vice chair of the task force and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, said when a draft of the updated guidelines was released last April.
That clarification could mean that insurance companies will have to start picking up the check for screening women in their 40s, even though it's not explicitly recommended, Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society, said when the draft was released.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts who regularly review the scientific evidence and make recommendations regarding health screening procedures and preventive medicine.
The task force faced stiff criticism in 2009 when it first raised the recommended age for regular mammogram screenings to the age of 50. Women aged 40 to 49 were encouraged to talk with their doctor about the best time to start regular, every-other-year mammography.
In the updated recommendations, the task force is standing by its 2009 guideline, noting that while the evidence shows that some women in their 40s will benefit from mammography, most will not, and some will be harmed.