Most women 40 and older believe they should have mammograms every year to screen for breast cancer, the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics health poll finds.
The finding is at odds with current recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that women with typical risks for breast cancer have screening mammograms every two years starting at age 50 and until they turn 75.
The decision about mammograms for women in their 40s is a personal one. The task force found a small net benefit for biennial screening of women ages 40 to 49. The guidelines say women should take into account their health situation as well as their views on the benefits of early cancer detection and potential harms, such as unnecessary biopsies and surgery.
The USPSTF said there wasn’t enough evidence about the benefits from mammograms for women age 75 and up to make a recommendation.
The task force is working on an update to the mammography guidelines, which have sparked controversy since they were last revised in 2009. The thrust of the draft advice is pretty much the same as it has been, but there’s more nuanced discussion of the benefits and potential harms for women in their 40s.
The NPR-Truven Health poll found almost two-thirds of women ages 50 to 74 believe that they should have a mammogram annually. For women 40 to 49, the number drops to 56 percent. For women under 40, about 45 percent believe they should have a mammogram every year. Overall, 57 percent of women believe an annual mammogram is appropriate.
“The Task Force is happy to see that women are making informed decisions with their doctor about breast cancer screening and continue to have access to mammography screening,” Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, vice chair of the USPSTF, told Shots in a statement emailed after she reviewed the poll’s findings. “Mammograms are an important tool in helping women avoid deaths from breast cancer. The value of mammography screening increases with age, with women ages 50 to 74 benefitting most from screening. In this age group, the
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