Breast cancer screenings should start at 40, health task force says

New breast cancer screening guidance
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 7:51 PM EDT
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(WFSB) - A federal health task force is now recommending women with an average risk of breast cancer start screening at age 40.

That previous recommendation was age 50.

Doctors at Hartford Hospital are pleased with that announcement.

Each year in the United States 264,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Early detection is so critical.

“I can’t even express how happy I am. We’ve been telling our patients all along here in Connecticut that age 40 really is the age to start screening. And it’s fantastic to get validation from this authority,” said Dr. Diana James, Director of Breast Imaging at Hartford Hospital.

She’s happy that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is updating its guidance on breast cancer screening.

“The whole goal of screening is to start early, get the baseline and then detect really tiny changes so we can cure the disease,” Dr. James said.

Since 2016, the federal health task force has been recommending women with an average risk of breast cancer start getting mammograms at age 50.

Now the task force is proposing women start screening at age 40.

“There’s been a lot of confusion in the general public because different organizations had different recommendations for what age to begin screening so I think this helps,” said Susan Brown, Senior Director of Health Information and Publications, Susan G. Komen.

Early detection is key.

“When breast cancer is found early, and people get effective treatment, the outcomes are much better. The survival rate is better, the treatment is likely easier for patients and of course, the costs are lower,” Brown said.

An estimated 12.9-percent of women born in the United States today will develop breast cancer at some time in their lives, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Diana Smith said pre-menopausal women should get a routine mammogram every year.

“I think it’s just really important to take the time to focus on your health. A lot of us, particularly caregivers which tend to be the female, not all females, but tend to be the woman, make that time. Even if it’s an OBGYN appointment, dental appointment, whatever it is. Include the mammogram screening appointment.,” said Dr. Smith.

This is a draft recommendation from the task force.

The public can comment until June 5.

Susan G. Komen has a help hotline. You can find it HERE.