When to start mammograms?

by Rachel Burt, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at Roswell OB/GYN…………………………………

A new study released last week in the Journal Cancer suggests early screening mammograms may save lives.  The study analyzed 7301 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1990 and 1999.  There were 609 documented deaths from breast cancer.  Of those who died from breast cancer, 71 percent had not been screened in over 2 years.  Half of the cancer deaths in the study were in women under 50 years of age.  Breast cancer is most common in women over 60, however breast cancer in younger women is more aggressive and more lethal. The study suggests mammograms in your 40s could help with early detection and reduce mortality rates from breast cancer.

The study challenges the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation for women to wait until age 50 for the first mammogram, and then every two years until age 75.  These recommendations were based on financial analysis suggesting early mammography leads to additional costs of diagnostic testing without overall reduction in mortality rates.  Whereas, the study provides additional support to the American Cancer Society’s recommendation that women get mammograms every year starting at age 40.

A few important points to remember

  • Talk to your healthcare provider and review your family history to help determine the age to start screening and frequency appropriate for you.
  • Although follow up imaging of breast tissue and diagnostic testing may cause anxiety, early detection is key.  Detecting cancer prior to it becoming palpable during a regular office visit greatly increases survival chances and successful treatment

If you have any questions, please contact your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment at 770 751 3600 or online at https://secure.awhg.org/rosobgyn/