Updated Breast Cancer Guidelines Now Recommend Mammograms Starting at Age 40

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For years we’ve known that at 50 years of age, women should start getting regular mammograms. However, in recent years studies have stacked up that show women in their 40s are increasingly getting breast cancer. In light of these studies and other data, it seems the recommendation is shifting. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force draft recommendations suggest women now get their first mammogram at age 40 and continue biennially. This would be an update to the 2016 recommendation that recommends women start at 50.

Some doctors and experts have already been encouraging early screening, but with the task force putting the recommendation in place, it’s likely to be seen nationwide. The goal of bumping up screening is to help save more lives. Middlesex, MA John Wong, MD, who is on the task force, told The Washington Post recent evidence shows more women in their 40s are getting breast cancer, with the number of newly diagnosed women increasing about two percent a year.

“It is now clear that screening every other year starting at age 40 has the potential to save about 20 percent more lives among all women,” says Dr. Wong. We know preventative care and finding cancer early are essential to having favorable results. This is especially important for women of color.

“There is an even greater potential benefit for Black women, who are much more likely to die from breast cancer,” says Dr. Wong. As Dr. Vivian Bea, board-certified general surgeon and chief of breast surgical oncology at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, previously told us, “Black women are 40 percent more likely to die of a breast cancer diagnosis, period.”

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