Task force: Mammograms an option at 40, do more good at 50

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s newest breast cancer screening guidelines reaffirm their 2009 recommendations that drew the ire of leading medical organizations.

The government task force’s guidelines, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Monday, again recommend routine mammograms once every two years for women between the ages of 50 and 74 at average risk for breast cancer. Forty-something women could begin biennial screenings if they choose, the task force said, finding the tests at that age held a “small net benefit.”

The independent panel found “insufficient” evidence to determine the harms and benefits of mammograms for women 75 and older.

Women in their 60s are the most likely to avoid dying from breast cancer thanks to mammograms, but there’s clearly enough benefit for the average woman to start at 50, the task force found.

Patient advocacy and medical groups have decried those recommendations since they were first made nearly seven years ago, believing they could discourage younger women from getting screened.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary