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Younger Women Need Mammograms, Says New Study

Younger Women Need Mammograms, Says New Study

Women between the ages of 40 and 49 need annual mammograms, according to a new study. Study authors also suggest that regular mammography screening is the best way to significantly reduce breast cancer deaths.

The research, published in Cancer, involved 7,301 patients, and showed 71 percent of confirmed breast cancer deaths occurring in the 20 percent who did not receive regular mammograms. The majority of study participants who died from breast cancer had never had a screening mammogram prior to diagnosis. Fifty percent of the deaths were in women under age 50, and the median age at diagnosis was 49.

Younger Women Need Mammograms

“These findings should quiet those who argue that women age 40-49 do not need regular mammography screening. In fact, these women need annual screening — as do all women 40 and older. This is the message physicians should be promoting,”¯ said Barbara S. Monsees, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission. “Breast cancer treatment has come a long way, but, as this study demonstrates, these advances have not negated the value of, or the need for early detection. This is especially true for younger women, who tend to have faster growing tumors.”¯

Here We Go Again

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) stirred up a controversy when it changed its guidelines regarding mammography screening, citing psychological harms due to unnecessary testing, false-positives, and over diagnosis. Radiation exposure was cited as a minor concern. The new guidelines recommend no mammography screening in low risk women under age 50 or over age 75. For women in the 50-74 year-old age group, it recommends mammograms every other year rather than every year. Perhaps the bigger controversy is their recommendation against teaching breast self-examination.

Breast Health Is In Your Hands

Nonprofit Beyond Boobs! supports young women diagnosed with breast cancer and promotes breast health education for all. The organization continues to encourage breast self-examination as a noninvasive and free early detection tool. As a breast cancer survivor who found her own lump, I’m inclined to agree.

I’m having a tougher time with the mammogram issue, so I asked Beyond Boobs! Co-founder and Executive Director Mary Beth Gibson to weigh in. “Until we find a way to determine which breast cancer cells will become life threatening and which breast cancer cells do not necessitate intervention, mammography remains the best tool we have for finding breast cancer at its earliest stages.

“The majority of women of Beyond Boobs! who were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 40s found their cancers with mammography. I can say with total confidence that none of them would have wanted to wait until 50 for their first mammogram.

“We are not a statistic — we are women whose lives may have been saved by beginning mammography in our 40s,” says Ms. Gibson. “Many of these women were also able to choose less invasive surgery and treatment as a result of finding their breast cancers earlier than if they had waited.”

I also reached out to surgical oncologist Diane M. Radford of Mercy Clinic St. Louis Cancer & Breast Institute. “This study provides additional information that mammography screening in younger women is of value,” says Dr. Radford. “In my own breast surgery practice, 25 percent of patients with breast cancer are younger than 50 years old. Although the USPTF recommends mammography starting age 50, the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the American College of Radiology, American Society of Breast Imaging, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all recommend mammography starting age 40.”

To Mammogram or Not to Mammogram

“The ‘when to mammogram’ question is complex, and the study didn’t alter the dialogue,” says Gibson. “Informed women must evaluate the pros and cons and discuss it with medical professionals who truly understand the issues.”

Post Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Related Reading
Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Could a Common Painkiller Fight Aggressive Breast Cancer?
Mammography: Saving Lives Or Overdiagnosis Overkill?

Read more: Cancer, Conditions, Family, General Health, Health, News & Issues, Women's Health, ,

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9:52AM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

I agree.. women should have mammograms younger

4:34AM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

Thanks for sharing this information.

7:52PM PDT on Sep 21, 2013

Interesting!!!

1:59AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

Thank you :)

10:45PM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

Pushing an agenda..

7:11PM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

This website continues their occasional hypocritical sellout to not only the establishment, but in this case the medical mafia, which of course will only be getting worse as we experience sick-care tyranny increasingly dominate our lives. Mammogram radiation has demonstrated a direct correlation to the increasing incidence of breast cancer, for which the medical establishment has profited enormously through worthless and expensive treatments. And now they are propagandizing radiation for even younger women~!! Fortunately, some of the comments here seem to reflect these realities, as well as the screening alternative women should pursue. Thermography is proven to be a safe and viable option, providing the same benefits, without ANY radiation, though unfortunately most women will continue subjecting themselves to unnecessary and risky mammograms, though may be a moot point anyway as we are further subjected to sick-care tyranny. Of course, emphasizing PREVENTION through taking care of yourself and adequate nutritional supplementation can go a long way toward avoiding just becoming victim of the treatment racket...

3:53AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

"Here We Go Again" you can write that again...

There is only a common factor in all of this: MONEY... The never ending will for the medical establishment to make more and more money...

From DNA to MRI... Crazy is on the loose!

9:14PM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

definitely need to find a better screen than a mammogram. The reasons against them are definitely compelling, but until we have something better they're the best we have. Which isn't all that great

9:12PM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

If you scrutinize the history of mammogram-favorable studies you -if reasonable- quickly recognize the lack of scientific significance of this new study. This history shows that the influential pro-mammogram studies are heavily flawed, that almost all studies in support of mammograms are implemented by scientists with massive conflicts-of-interests (such as Kopans who is a co-author of this new study), that all pro-mammogram proponents downplay or ignore the serious risks of mammograms, and many solid studies found no notable decrease in mortality from breast cancer after the use of mammography (read the ebook "The Mammogram Myth: The Independent Investigation Of Mammography The Medical Profession Doesn't Want You To Know About" by Rolf Hefti. Also see http://www.TheMammogramMyth.com).

7:50PM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

still needs to be a joint decision between patient and health provider......

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