Annual Mammograms Beginning At Age 40 Could Save Your Life
Amid all the confusing recommendations of how often and at what age women should begin taking mammograms, heres some information to remember: Beginning annual mammograms at age 40 saves 71 percent of lives among the women who are getting the tests.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan, analyzed the same data that caused a quasi-governmental agency to reach a very different conclusion. In November 2009, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force recommended that women get mammograms every other two years beginning at age 50 and ending at age 74. (The American Cancer Society recommends one every year between the ages of 40 and 84.
The recommendations caused an outcry among breast-cancer advocates, including some who had breast cancer in their 40s and learned of their disease via mammogram. In issuing their recommendations, the task force said cited the frequency of false-positive mammograms, which could lead to unnecessary biopsies, and the pain of the procedure itself.
But R. Edward Hendrick, clinical professor of radiology at the University of Colorado, said that the panel overestimated the potential harm of screening mammography. He said he and fellow researcher Mark Helvie, professor of radiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, had found that women who begin having mammograms at age 40 will get a false-positive once every ten years, and a false biopsy every 149 years.