Studies suggest new breast screening standards | On Call

May 1, 2012 by MassDevice staff

A pair of studies suggests that women with relatives who have breast cancer or who have dense breast tissue should begin having mammograms every 2 years at age 40, helping settle the uncertainty over how often women should be screened for breast cancer.

MassDevice On Call

MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Two studies published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine could influence the standard of care for breast screening, which was called into question by a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force report in 2009.

That report suggested that annual mammograms might cause more harm than good because of increased false positives leading to unnecessary biopsies and further testing – not to mention considerable anxiety for patients.

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The new studies suggest that women with relatives who have breast cancer, or who have dense breast tissue, begin a program of biennial mammograms starting at 40.

The PSTF proposal caused a ruckus 3 years ago when it suggested that women start mammogram screening at age 50, rather than 40, and every 2 years rather than annually – a radical departure from 2 decades of recommendations from the American Cancer Society that women should get mammograms every year starting at 40.

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