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The Latest Information on the Timing of Screening Mammograms

Every woman has the right to an annual screening mammogram starting at age 40 and every year thereafter.

There has been confusion lately among women and their medical providers as to when screening mammograms should begin. The latest United States Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation disappointingly continues to recommend delaying screening until the age of 50 and then recommends screening every two years until the age of 74. They base this on the unsupported claim that the harms of screening outweigh the benefits for women age 40-49. Unfortunately, The American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines have also recently changed to reflect only women who are high risk should begin yearly screening prior to the age of 45.

The scientific evidence shows that most lives are saved by yearly mammograms starting at age 40 for all women. In fact, only 25% of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year have any known risk factors such as genetic predisposition or family history. Ideally, any good screening test should find disease early so that the best treatment options and outcomes may be offered to the patient. Early detection saves lives!

Your medical team at Mission Hope believes that no woman should forego a mammogram because of conflicting and confusing guidelines. We support the American College of Radiology, The Society for Breast Imaging, the American College of Gynecology, The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and The American Medical Association who continue to believe in and recommend yearly screening mammography at age 40 and every year thereafter.

Thankfully, due to the recent passing of a bill called The Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act, the USPSTF and ACS guidelines will not impact insurance coverage for screening mammograms. Mandatory mammography insurance coverage for millions of women nationwide will continue thus allowing providers to save tens of thousands of lives each year. The PALS Act puts a two-year halt on the USPSTF draft recommendations for breast cancer screening during which time the medical and women’s advocacy community will take action against this guideline. The bottom line is that insurance coverage for screening mammograms at age 40 has not changed. Women can continue to start their screening at age 40 as recommended by their physicians. That is your with an early right; it is the law.

A group of young breast cancer patients gathered recently at Mission Hope to show their support of proactive screenings. Each of these ladies received a treatable breast cancer diagnosis due to a screening before age 50.