Most women believe regular mammograms are the key to preventing breast cancer. But experts don’t always agree about when women should begin having regular mammograms. This has created confusion about the right time to start this important screening.
Why the confusion?
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American women, but it doesn’t have to be. When it comes to successful breast cancer treatment, health care groups know screening and early detection are important. But they interpret mammogram risks and benefits differently when making recommendations.
For example, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests women begin regular mammograms at age 50. The American Cancer Society recommends age 45. Both organizations take the following into account:
Is there a right answer?
In June, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) revised their guidelines for women of average breast cancer risk*. The ACOG guidelines put the decision of when to start mammograms in the hands of patients and their health providers. The guidelines try to balance benefits and risks by advising health providers to:
WISDOM study aims to end mammography debate
UCLA is participating in the Women Informed to Screen Depending on Measures of Risk (WISDOM) Study. This University of California study is exploring whether age-based annual screening is more effective than a personalized screening approach like ACOG recommends.
The five-year study hopes to:
If you are in — or approaching — your 40s, talk with your doctor to determine when to begin mammography screening and how frequently you should be screened. And, visit WISDOM online for more information, or to join the study.
* These guidelines do not apply to women with risk factors, like a BRCA-gene mutation or a strong family history. For these women, there are different – more aggressive – screening recommendations.
Tags: 3-D mammography, American Cancer Society, annual mammogram, breast cancer screening, breast cancer screening options, breast cancer treatment, cancer, dense breasts, Healthy Living, mammogram, mammography, OBGYN, screening, Wellness
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