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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Guidelines For Mammograms

In case you haven't heard there are new guidelines for mammograms. The American Cancer Society has changed the age at which it recommends women start getting regular mammograms. The society advises that women with an average risk for breast cancer begin yearly screening at age 45.

The ACS also recommends that at age 55  these women should should transition to every other year testing. They also emphasize that women should have the option of beginning regular screening at age 40 and of staying with an annual exam if they so desire. This new policy decision closes the gap between the recommendations of the ACS and the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force.

By the way, one of the drawbacks of screening is the rate of false positive results. Over 10 years a woman receiving an annual mammogram has a 61% chance of getting a false positive test. False positive results can lead to uneccesary biopsies and surgery.

The other side of the story, and a point of view that we agree with, is that is better to have a false positive biopsy than it is to miss a small cancer that is potentially curable.