Study finds women should get mammograms starting at 40
OKLAHOMA CITY —
American Cancer Society
When it comes to the age at which women should start getting mammograms, there's a lot of confusion. But a new study is reinforcing the idea that mammograms should start before age 50.
Doctors say they don't blame women for being confused because often they are confused too.
"There's flip-flopping back and forth driving women nuts, driving the public nuts. It's really criminal," said Dr. Alan Hollingsworth.
The new study conducted by Harvard Medical School confirms the belief that many doctors have always had. Screening needs to start at age 40.
All of these organizations recommend screening at 40, usually on an annual basis.
American Cancer Society
National Comprehensive Cancer Network
American Medical Association
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
National Cancer Institute
American College of Radiology
American Society of Breast Disease
Society of Breast Imaging.
Dr. Elizabeth Jett is the director of imaging for OU Breast Institute. She says the study took a look at women who died of breast cancer and found that 50% of them were under 50 and 70% had never been screened.
"It proves what we all believed all along," said Dr. Jett. "Which is that screening mammography makes a difference."
"Every observational study out there shows about a 25% risk reduction in the chance of dying of breast cancer if you're screened," said Dr. Hollingsworth.
Dr. Hollingsworth is the Medical Director at Mercy Women's Center. He says it's the US Preventative Services Task Force that told women to wait until they're 50. But Dr. Hollingsworth and Dr. Jett say their data is flawed.
"It was strictly the cost of the false positives. They [the US Preventative Services Task Force] had a new way of calculating that and that's why they said the cost outweighs the benefit," said Dr. Hollingsworth.
But when the cost is your life and time spent with family and friends, many doctors say how can you afford not to get screened early.
"We say start at 40 and do it yearly. Don't stop at 70 like the task force says," said Dr. Hollingsworth.
Doctors FOX25 spoke with say if you have a family history of breast cancer you should start screening 5-10 years before the age your loved one was diagnosed.
Doctors do not recommended getting mammograms before age 25. Dr. Jett says young tissue is affected more by the radiation. She also says many women in their 20's have dense breast tissue which makes it very difficult to read mammograms and find cancer.