Last year, the American Cancer Society updated guidelines that recommend that women wait until the age of 45 to begin annual mammograms. Other guidelines suggest that women wait until 50 to begin regular mammography screenings. However, the Breast Center, along with the American College of Radiology, the Society of Breast Imaging, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, support annual mammography screenings starting at age 40.
New research suggests that half of all women turning 40 may have risks high enough to warrant annual mammograms. This new information further strengthens the Breast Center’s position on mammography screenings.
The study found that 50% of the reviewed female patients between the ages of 40 and 44 were at an above average risk for breast cancer, and that these patients would be eligible for annual mammography screenings. The same research also found that a significant number of female patients would qualify for other methods of breast cancer screening such as breast MRI and genetic testing.
The lead researcher was Dr. Jennifer Plichta, a breast surgery fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She says, “We believe formal risk assessment is essential for women ages 40 to 44 in order to identify those who require screening mammography to start at the age of 40, and those who would qualify for screening MRIs and genetic testing.”
Risk assessment is key. That’s why the Breast Center recommends annual mammograms starting at 40. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related death in all American women, and roughly 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in her lifetime. It’s estimated that there will be nearly 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer in the U.S. this year, alone. Mammography is the only proven screening method to actually reduce the rate of breast cancer.
The researchers who conducted this study are hoping that this new information will help contribute to understanding and developing the nationally recommended guidelines. However, guideline don’t apply to everyone universally. While some guidelines might fit your needs, it’s not a good idea to rely on them. Individualized care is the most effective option. Contact the Breast Center today!