A new recommendation on frequency of mammograms by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has sparked a major debate in the breast cancer community.
The report, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, urges several deviations from long-held screening standards. For women without a genetic risk or family history of breast cancer, they recommend:
- Starting mammograms at age 50, instead of age 40.
- Getting a mammogram every two years, instead of every year.
- Complete elimination of self-exams.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation is based on an analysis of the benefits and risks of screening. The risk of screening women under 50 includes anxiety over false positives. The benefits include catching breast cancer before it becomes lethal.
This report is highly controversial, and several of the major breast cancer awareness groups—including the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure—reject the findings and have no plan to discontinue their guidelines.