SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Panel: Mammograms should start at 40 to address rising breast cancer rates at younger ages

Apr 30, 2024, 4:27 PM | Updated: 4:28 pm

FILE - A radiologist uses a magnifying glass to check mammograms for breast cancer in Los Angeles, ...

FILE - A radiologist uses a magnifying glass to check mammograms for breast cancer in Los Angeles, May 6, 2010. U.S. women getting mammograms will soon receive information about their breast density, which can sometimes make cancer harder to spot, under government rules finalized Thursday, March 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer should start younger, at age 40, according to an influential U.S. task force. Women ages 40 to 74 should get screened every other year, the group said.

Previously, the task force had said women could choose to start breast cancer screening as young as 40, with a stronger recommendation that they get the exams every two years from age 50 through 74.

The announcement Tuesday from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force makes official a draft recommendation announced last year. The recommendations were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“It’s a win that they are now recognizing the benefits of screening women in their 40s,” said Dr. Therese Bevers of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She was not involved in the guidance.

Other medical groups, including the American College of Radiology and the American Cancer Society, suggest mammograms every year — instead of every other year — starting at age 40 or 45, which may cause confusion, Bevers said, but “now the starting age will align with what many other organizations are saying.”

 

Post by @nbcnews
View on Threads

 

Breast cancer death rates have fallen as treatment continues to improve. But breast cancer is still the second-most common cause of cancer death for U.S. women. About 240,000 cases are diagnosed annually and nearly 43,000 women die from breast cancer.

The nudge toward earlier screening is meant to address two vexing issues: the increasing incidence of breast cancer among women in their 40s — it’s risen 2% annually since 2015 — and the higher breast cancer death rate among Black women compared to white women, said task force vice chair Dr. John Wong of Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

“Sadly, we know all too well that Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women,” Wong said.

Modeling studies predict that earlier screening may help all women, and have “even more benefit for women who are Black,” he said.
Here are more details on what’s changed, why it’s important and who should pay attention.

When should I get my first mammogram?

Age 40 is when mammograms should start for women, transgender men and nonbinary people at average risk. They should have the X-ray exam every other year, according to the new guidance. Other groups recommend annual mammograms, starting at 40 or 45.

The advice does not apply to women who’ve had breast cancer or those at very high risk of breast cancer because of genetic markers. It also does not apply to women who had high-dose radiation therapy to the chest when they were young, or to women who’ve had a lesion on previous biopsies.

What about women 75 and older?

It’s not clear whether older women should continue getting regular mammograms. Studies rarely include women 75 and older, so the task force is calling for more research.

Bevers suggests that older women talk with their doctors about the benefits of screening, as well as harms like false alarms and unnecessary biopsies.

What about women with dense breasts?

Mammograms don’t work as well for women with dense breasts, but they should still get the exams.

The task force would like to see more evidence about additional tests, such as ultrasounds or MRIs for women with dense breasts. It’s not yet clear whether those types of tests would help detect cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage, Wong said.

Does this affect insurance coverage?

Congress already passed legislation requiring insurers to pay for mammograms for women 40 and older without copays or deductibles. In addition, the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover task force recommendations with an “A” or “B” letter grade. The mammography recommendation has a “B” grade, meaning it has moderate net benefit.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

KSL 5 TV Live

Science & Technology

A Bell 505 helicopter demonstrated the takeoff and landing capabilities that future air taxis will ...

Kiersten Nunez

A glimpse into the future of urban air travel with Utah’s first vertiport demonstration

An empty parking lot in Layton has been transformed into the stage for Utah’s first vertiport demonstration, offering a vision of the future of urban air travel.

3 days ago

Madison Police Department Mid Town District Capt. Jason Freedman and Det. Lindsey Ludden talk with ...

Associated Press

Bones found in 1989 in chimney identified as man who last contacted relatives in 1970

Authorities say human bones found inside the chimney of a Wisconsin music store in 1989 have been identified as those of a man whose last known contact with relatives was in 1970.

6 days ago

Visitors look at the skeleton of a gigantic Triceratops over 66 million years old, named "Big John,...

Katie Hunt, CNN

Mystery of warm-blooded dinosaurs could be unraveled by new study

Were dinosaurs warm-blooded like birds and mammals or cold-blooded like reptiles? It’s one of paleontology’s oldest questions. Here's what new research found.

8 days ago

A box full of donated eclipse glasses being inspected by Boy Scouts to help a local business owner ...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Utah eclipse glasses program calls for volunteers after overwhelming donation response

A Provo eclipse glasses donation program is asking for help to sort through hundreds of thousands of glasses people have been sending in from all over the country.

13 days ago

This image provided by NASA shows a solar flare, as seen in the bright flash in the lower right,  c...

Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer

Strong solar storm could disrupt communications and produce northern lights in US

An unusually strong solar storm headed toward Earth could produce northern lights in the U.S. and potentially disrupt power and communications this weekend.

14 days ago

School's are implementing AI to help with school safety. Hunter High School requires students walk ...

Shelby Lofton

KSL Investigates: Utah schools put AI safety technology to the test

From the Capitol to the classroom, Utahns see a need for enhanced school security. AI might be the solution.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Panel: Mammograms should start at 40 to address rising breast cancer rates at younger ages