Sunday, June 4, 2023

Recommended Age For Starting Breast Cancer Screenings Lowered From 50 To 40

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recently issued a new advisory recommending that women should begin receiving regular mammograms starting at the age of 40.

Previously, the benchmark age for such screenings was 50 years old. Now researchers are emphasizing that kicking off the screening process at an earlier age can increase one’s chances of detecting any potential issues at an earlier stage, thereby facilitating timely treatment.

The recently-released draft recommendation statement suggests that women arrange regular breast exams and mammogram screenings and perform monthly breast self-examinations.

It also stresses the need for deeper research to best address the disparities faced by Black, Hispanic, Latina, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American and Alaska Native women. It says that more studies are required to understand how women with dense breasts can potentially benefit from early detection of breast cancer by incorporating breast ultrasound or MRI into their screening process, Healthline reported.

Women are more prone to breast cancer after 40, so it can automatically be assumed that screenings should also start after that age. As per the American Cancer Society’s recommendation, women should consider starting annual screenings between ages 40 and 44 but should have yearly mammograms starting at age 45.

“I am pleased with the change in the draft recommendations by the USPSTF to begin mammography for average-risk women at age 40,” said Dr. Pamela Berens, obstetrician and gynecologist with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston, according to Healthline.

“This reversal from the task force’s previous recommendation for women to start mammograms at age 50 may on the surface seem confusing, but it boils down to saving more lives,” said Dr. Irene M. Kang, medical director of women’s health medical oncology at City of Hope Orange County and medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer at City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center in Irvine, California.

Kang added that the NCCN has provided guidelines stating that women should undergo breast cancer risk assessment at age 25, and those who are considered to be at average risk of developing breast cancer should begin annual mammograms at age 40. Kang further noted that these guidelines are consistent with the new advisory.

Furthermore, in consideration of the fact that women from different demographics are disproportionately affected by breast cancer, appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that mammograms and regular cancer screenings are accessible to everyone.

Women who speak only Spanish have fewer mammograms in US.
Elías Alarcón – Pixabay

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