Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women in the U.S., but early detection can save lives. There's a new proposal that would have women getting mammograms at a younger age.
May is Women's Healthcare Month. To reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force said all women at average risk should get screened every other year for breast cancer starting at age 40.
"They've recognized that there's increased incidence of breast cancer in this age group for women in their 40s, but also that screening is very effective," Dr. Sarah Friedewald, the Chief of Breast Imaging for Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said.
She said this latest proposal would update the Task Force's 2016 guidance, which said women should get mammograms every other year starting at age 50, but the decision for a woman to screen in her 40s was an individual one.
"Definitely it's a move in the right direction, but it's not exactly right," Dr. Friedewald said.
A study in the journal JAMA Network Open found the rate of breast cancer deaths in women in their 40s was 27 per 100,000 people for black women, compared with 15 deaths per 100,000 people in white women. Dr. Friedewald said screening ever year, instead of every two years, would save more lives.
"If you increase that interval between screening, you just allow the cancers to grow to a potentially larger phase and it could potentially be less treatable," she said.
These updated recommendations would not apply to women at an increased risk of breast cancer, who may already be getting screened at 40 or earlier. Dr. Friedewald said women need to be aware of their family history and other risk factors that may increase their chances of breast cancer.
To read the full recommendation, click here.