US Group Recommends Breast Cancer Screening At 40, Not 50.

Jun, 2023 - by CMI

A new set of guidelines from a government-backed team of specialists suggests breast cancer screenings for most women every other year starting at 40, ten years earlier than previously indicated.

On Tuesday, a government-backed panel of specialists recommended that most women start breast cancer screenings every other year at 40, ten years earlier than before. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says its new recommendations might save 19% more lives. The CDC estimates 264,000 women and 2,400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the US. The disease kills 42,000 US women and 500 men annually. Breast cancer screenings use mammography and X-rays. The panel's advice applies to cisgender women and women at average breast cancer risk. No high-risk breast cancer patients or families. US Preventive Services Task Force advice is largely followed. The panel's 2016 update recommended screening every other year for women at 50.

Doctors were advised to screen 40-year-old women with a breast cancer family history. The group worried that faster screenings may lead to younger women obtaining needless care like negative biopsies. Biopsies diagnose disorders like cancer. Dr. Carol Mangione, former chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, said "new and more inclusive science" on breast cancer in younger women prompted the update.

Between 2015 and 2019, breast cancer in women 40–49 rose 2%, according to the National Cancer Institute.  Updated guidelines are expected to reduce black-white breast cancer mortality inequalities. The panel found that black women had a 40% higher mortality rate from the illness than white women and "too frequently get deadly cancers at younger ages." The commission demanded fast study to end the imbalance.

Dr. Wanda Nicholson, the recommendations' vice chair, said, "Ensuring that Black women begin screening at age 40 is an important first step, but it is insufficient to address the health disparities we face in relation to breast cancer." In 2019, 60% of 40-49-year-old women had a mammogram. The American Cancer Society and other medical groups recommend annual breast cancer screenings before 50.