On Tuesday, the American Cancer Society issued a new set of guidelines for breast cancer screening in women. From the new guidelines, we learn that the ACS changes its stance on annual mammograms for younger women, or women of 40 to 44 years of age.
The new guidelines suggest that this group should wait until they are 45 years old to start annual breast cancer screening. Until then, women should “have the opportunity” to be referred for screening after talking with their physician.
After the age of 55, women are still advised to do testing twice a year.
The new guidelines show that the ACS changed it stance on annual mammograms for younger women in a major way. Until Tuesday, women were urged to undergo mammograms on a yearly basis from age 40 onward.
Yet, recent studies revealed that sometimes mammograms can lead to overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatments, while in some cases breast cancer is so aggressive that the woman still dies despite early diagnosis.
Close to “85 percent of women in their 40s and 50s who die of breast cancer would have died regardless of mammography,” noted ACS investigators in a paper accompanying the recent guidelines.
According to the new guidelines, women should stop relying on breast exams because they are not as accurate as mammograms in finding cancerous tumors. The recent rules are now in line with a 2009 recommendation from a federally funded group called the US Preventive Services Task Force.
In the U.S., 232,000 women learn that they have breast cancer every year. About 40,000 patients will lose the battle against the disease.
Other groups had also argued that mammograms should not be preformed so often because of a series of drawbacks. But the ACS’ guidelines would most certainly have a major influence on doctors and patients alike because of its respectability.
The ACS published the new set of guidelines in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The new rules apply only to women with an average risk of developing breast cancer.
The women within the high-risk group should see a new set of rules be released next year. About 90 percent of women have a moderate risk of breast cancer.
Women with a high risk are those with genetic mutations linked to their tumors and with a family and personal history for the disease. These women are usually 20 percent more likely to develop breast cancer.
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