If you are confused about the ever changing variations in mammography screening guidelines, you are not alone. Last month the American Cancer Society released yet another set of recommendations, adding to the confusion.
The goal of screening tests for breast cancer is to find it before it causes symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Regular mammograms can often help find breast cancers at an early stage, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer found early, less likely to need aggressive treatment, and more likely to be cured.
All the organizations that have issued the various mammogram guidelines agree upon this fact: yearly screening beginning at age 40 saves the most lives. They don't all agree that saving additional lives is worth the costs of anxiety for the 10% of women called back for additional views after a screening exam, or the cost of a biopsy performed in about 1.5% of screened women, especially if those biopsies turn out to be benign.
The physicians at Southdale OBGYN, following the guidelines of the American College of OBGYN, recommend annual screening mammograms for women starting at age 40, along with clinical breast exams. Some women who are at high risk of breast cancer based on certain factors may need to start screening earlier or have additional breast imaging.
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