US recommends women begin screening for breast cancer at age 40
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The United States Preventive Services Task Force is now recommending that all women with an average risk of breast cancer start mammogram screening at the age of 40, as opposed to previous recommendation of 50.
Doctors at UVA Health are hoping this change will help doctors catch more cases earlier.
“Having this flat recommendation of screening at age 50, we were missing a lot of cancers,” Doctor Jonathan Nguyen said.
Dr. Nguyen says a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) could have led to this change. He says the number one factor affecting mortality in breast cancer diagnoses is when the cancer is detected.
“We always try to create these, like one size fits all guidelines. But that doesn’t really work, and I think what that JAMA article actually acknowledged and made them point out is that this is kind of disproportionately affecting Black women, who overall across controlling for all factors just have higher risks of breast cancer, and have higher mortality rates, and they get breast cancer at a younger age than the majority of white women,” Dr. Nguyen said.
UVA Health and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital already follow the guideline of screenings starting at 40, but this federal change will create a uniform process for breast cancer care nationwide.
“I think that’s the best way to be very consistent, it’s easy to remember. And it’s the best chance for all women to make sure we can catch those cancers when they’re at a small age so they can have the best treatment possible,” Dr. Nguyen said.
The recommendation is still only in draft, but Dr. Nguyen says it is an exciting step in the right direction.
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