The American Cancer Society recently released new recommendations for when and how often women should get mammograms. The new breast cancer screening guidelines state that women with an average risk of breast cancer should have an annual mammogram starting at age 45, continuing once a year until 54, then every other year as long as they are healthy.
The new recommendation deviates from the previous recommendation that women with an average risk of breast cancer begin annual mammograms at age 40. These guidelines do not apply to women who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer because of their personal or family history of breast cancer, or because they have tested positive for a gene mutation that’s linked to breast cancer, or had radiation to their chest when they were younger.
The American Cancer Society has also changed its recommendation regarding clinical breast exams, and no longer recommends annual clinical breast exams for women.
Why the change?
The American Cancer Society performs regular, exhaustive reviews of medical literature to keep its screening guidelines up to date. Research shows that, while mammograms can help prevent cancer deaths, they are less helpful for women under age 45. Mammograms are not always accurate, either, and sometimes result in false positives and could lead to the diagnosis and treatment of small, unaggressive cancers that may not have needed treatment.
Essentially, the American Cancer Society determined that mammograms could result in more harm than good for healthy younger women with an average risk of breast cancer.
Similarly, the cancer society has found little evidence that clinical breast exams help prevent breast cancer deaths, but that they too could lead to false positives, triggering more testing.
Goshen Health’s Recommendations
The new guidelines from the ACS can be confusing for women, especially because they differ from the government’s recommendations. So which guidelines should you follow?
Preventative screenings do save lives, and they are vital tools in the fight against cancer. For the one in five out of a thousand women whose cancer is found on a mammogram, that screening test was absolutely worth it. Goshen Health is committed to fighting cancer through early detection.
Please consult with your primary care physician if you have any questions about the breast cancer screening guidelines, or before making any changes to your screening plan.
The Retreat Women’s Health Center has designed programs and services to meet each woman’s individual needs. At The Retreat, women can receive preventative health screenings, including mammograms. The center’s high-risk breast cancer program has been designed to promote risk reduction and healthy choices for women who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer.
Posted: 11/16/2015 by
Filed under: awareness, breast, cancer, Cancer Care, guidelines, screening, wellness