Breast cancer screening guidelines in recent years have become a topic of controversy as the prior recommendation of having all women begin mammography testing at age 40 has been changing to older ages. At the beginning of 2016, the US Preventive Services Task Force went further to clarify its stance on breast cancer screening guidelines.
The guidelines recommend women who are aged 50 to 74 years of age to get mammograms every two years. Women who are 40 to 50 years of age are asked to make an individual choice as to whether or not they need mammography every two years. Those who are at an average risk of breast cancer may see more benefit from screening beginning at age 50. However, women with a higher risk of breast cancer including family history of the disease are advised to begin mammography at age 40.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported about the potential controversy surrounding these new cancer screening guidelines. Women who had been diagnosed with the disease in their 40s and were essentially saved due to screening find the new recommendations unsatisfactory, as there could potentially be some with the disease who won’t be able to get an earlier diagnosis if they forego mammography.
The news source details the story of one woman who received a mammogram in her early 40s and a small breast tumor was found. When a surgeon went in to perform an operation to remove the cancer, an even larger tumor was discovered. Essentially, the mammogram did play a role in saving this woman’s life. It will depend upon a woman’s decision and her doctors’ recommendation whether or not to begin mammography before the age of 50.
The American Cancer Society also has similar breast cancer screening guidelines. However, not everyone agrees with the idea of waiting until age 50.
“As a breast surgeon, I tell patients that I don’t agree with those recommendations, and if you can get a mammogram, particularly if you have any family history of cancer, then get the mammogram,” Josette Spotts, a breast surgeon at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, told the news source. “It’s not that difficult and it can save your life.”