New Guidelines Advise Mammograms Start at Age 40

New Guidelines Advise Mammograms Start at Age 40

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has revised its recommendations, advising that women begin biennial mammograms at age 40, a decade earlier than the previous guidance. This update follows a noted increase in breast cancer rates among women aged 40 to 49, with a 2% annual rise from 2015 to 2019, as reported by the National Cancer Institute. The Task Force, an independent panel of experts, suggests the change could significantly reduce breast cancer mortality, potentially saving about 8,000 lives annually in the U.S.

The recommendation, which is consistent with other medical groups such as the American College of Radiology and the American Cancer Society, emphasizes the need for women to be screened every other year until age 74. The American Cancer Society advises women who are at "average" risk and aged 40 to 44 to start screening, with a stronger recommendation for those starting at age 45. Under the Affordable Care Act, most private health insurers are required to cover annual mammograms, making them free for patients.

The Task Force's guidelines are specific to individuals at average risk of breast cancer and do not apply to those with a history of the disease or those at high risk due to genetic factors. While the new guidance aims to reduce the overall death rate from breast cancer, including addressing the higher death rate among Black women, there is a call for more research to refine screening practices for older women, given the current lack of evidence in this area.


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