Mammogram Rates Have Dropped After Task Force Recommendation

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A study by the Mayo Clinic has found that fewer women in their 40s are getting screening mammograms since the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that screening mammograms start at age 50 instead of 40.

Mayo Clinic researchers found that screening mammography rates for women age 40 to 49 went down by almost 6% since November 2009. The results were presented at the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, June 24-26, 2012.

The researchers compared mammogram rates before and after the USPSTF recommendations of nearly 8 million women ages 40 to 64.

The value of routine screening mammograms was questioned in November 2009 when the USPSTF recommended that routine screening mammograms for women with an average risk of breast cancer should start at age 50 instead of age 40. The recommended changes were very controversial and were NOT adopted.

If you're 40 or older and have an average risk of breast cancer, yearly screening mammograms should be part of your healthcare. If your breast cancer risk is higher than average, you may want to talk to your doctor about a more aggressive breast cancer screening plan that makes the most sense for your particular situation.

The Mayo Clinic, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network all recommend that screening mammograms should start at age 40.

There's only one of you and you deserve the best care possible. Don't let any obstacles get in the way of your regular screening mammograms.

  • If you're worried about cost, talk to your doctor, a local hospital social worker, or staff members at a mammogram center. Ask about free programs in your area.
  • If you're having problems scheduling a mammogram, call the National Cancer Institute (800-4-CANCER) or the American College of Radiology (800-227-5463) to find certified mammogram providers near you.
  • If you find mammograms painful, ask the mammography center staff members how the experience can be as easy and as comfortable as possible for you.

For more information on mammograms and other tests to detect and diagnose breast cancer, visit the Breastcancer.org Screening and Testing section.

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