The American Cancer Society announced on Tuesday their new guidelines for breast-cancer screening. They are now recommending that women with average risk of breast cancer should start their first mammogram at age 45 (instead of 40) and continue every year until they reach 54. After age 54 women can get a mammogram every other year (as long as they are healthy and expected to live another 10 years).
Another shift is they no longer recommend clinical breast exams (doctor feels for lumps) for women with no indication of abnormality in their breasts.
Why these changes? There is evidence that mammograms can lead to false-positives which lead to additional intrusive testing like biopsies. Also it’s been suggested the tests can be less useful in younger women.
While they are recommending these changes, other organizations recommend earlier and more frequent screenings and some even recommend less. The American Cancer Society also leaves room for women’s preferences and unique situations.
As always, you and your doctor should discuss your own circumstance and come up with a plan that makes sense for you and your body.