What Women Want

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Government recommendations may have changed but that hasn’t changed what women want when it comes to mammograms. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force stunned the medical world in November 2009 when they changed their recommendation that women start getting mammograms in their 40s, to getting them in their 50s instead. They cited false positives and unnecessary testing as the impetus for the change. According to a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, many women disagree with the task force’s advice.

In the survey of 1,083 women in the U.S., ages 18 and up, 57 percent feel that mammograms should start at age 40 and nearly two-thirds of those polled weren’t even aware of the task force recommended changes. Only 12 percent felt that 50 was an appropriate age to start getting the tests done. The survey also revealed how women felt about why the task force made the changes. Only 30 percent believed the task force made the changes because of excessive false positives, while 45 percent felt the change was made to reduce health care costs. The poll also yielded surprising results among women in the age group at the center of the debate. According to the results, 66 percent of women in their 40s weren’t even aware of the new recommendations and 72 percent disagreed with them after learning about them.

It’s important to note that the task force’s changes also advised women in their 40s to discuss their specific risk factors with their doctors to determine when they should begin getting mammograms. What do you think is the best age for women to start getting mammograms?

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