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Mammogram as Late as age 50 "Scientifically Unfounded"

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

New research shows mammogram screening starting at age 40 can reduce breast cancer death rates by nearly 30 percent. The study authors say they now have evidence that waiting until age 50 for breast cancer screening is scientifically unfounded, and it's time to stop confusing women.

Carol H. Lee, MD, Chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission said in a strong statement, "This study, which looked at the performance of screening mammography as it is actually used, rather than relying on mathematical modeling, shows without a doubt that mammography decreases deaths from breast cancer in women aged 40-49 by nearly one third.” She adds, "There is no excuse not to recommend that average risk women begin annual screening mammography at age 40."

The study that took place in Sweden followed 600,000 women for 16 years, finding the benefits for screening, beginning at age 40 instead of age 50. Women age 40 to 49 who had not received mammograms were twice as likely to die from breast cancer.

Mammogram Screening Should Start at Age 40

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The authors say mammogram is not a perfect test, but currently there is no replacement. The study definitively shows annual breast cancer screening saves lives and the findings should end confusion for women.

Phil Evans, MD, President of the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) says "The debate is now over. Women should no longer be confused about the importance of annual breast cancer screening. Mammography saves lives. If you are a woman age 40 or over, one of them could be yours."

Gail Lebovic, MD, a breast surgeon and President of the American Society of Breast Disease (ASBD) says it's time to move forward. Providers should uniformly recommend mammogram screening for women beginning at age 40 in an effort to work toward early discovery of the disease when it is most treatable. She also says it's time to stop confusing women about mammography.

Mammography Saves Lives