New Mammogram Guidelines for Breast Cancer Screening

By May 25, 2024Health Tips

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer and second most common cause of cancer death among all US women. In 2023, over 43,000 women died of breast cancer. Experts agree that regular mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early for most patients. Breast cancer screening saves lives! In April 2024, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force updated their guidelines for regular screening mammograms. Let’s talk about what you should know about this important update.

What is the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)?
Breast Cancer ScreeningThe USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve the health of people nationwide by making recommendations about clinical preventive services based on all available medical evidence.
When should women start getting mammograms?
First let’s talk about what the previous guidelines recommended. The previous USPSTF guidelines, updated in 2016, recommended that average risk patients start getting mammograms at age 50. Those between 40 and 50 were advised to talk to their doctor about their breast cancer risk and make individual decisions about whether to start screening earlier than 50.
Unfortunately, the rate of breast cancer has been increasing in women in their 40s over the past 25 years, but the rate has increased even more noticeably since 2015.
After reviewing all the latest scientific evidence, the Task Force updated its guidelines in April 2024. Here is a summary of the new recommendations:
  • The USPSTF recommends screening mammography every other year for women aged 40 to 74 years. (10 years earlier start than previous recommendation)
  • The USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening mammography in women 75 years or older. (This essentially means that mammograms for screening in this age group should be a joint decision between doctor and patient based on individual patient health status and preferences.)
  • The USPSTF concludes that the evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of supplemental screening for breast cancer using breast ultrasonography or MRI in women identified to have dense breasts on an otherwise negative screening mammogram.
Exactly who are these recommendations for?
These new Task Force recommendations apply to all women (including transgender women) and people assigned female at birth who have an average risk of breast cancer. This does not include patients who:
  • Have very high breast cancer risk, either due to strong family history or due to known genetic markers such as BRCA1 or BRCA2.
  • Have had breast cancer or atypical lesions on previous breast biopsies.
  • Previously received high-dose radiation therapy to the chest.
People in those groups should talk to their doctor and have a risk assessment done in order to determine at what age to start and how often they should have breast cancer screening.
If you have any questions about breast cancer screening, please log into your account and send us your question. We are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor

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