Medical workers use a mammogram to examine a woman’s breast for breast cancer.
Hannibal Hänschke | dpa | Picture Alliance | Getty Images
Most women should have breast cancer screening every two years after age 40, a decade earlier than previously recommended Draft Policy published on Tuesday by a government-sponsored body by experts.
The US Preventive Services Task Force said its new guidance could save 19% more lives.
There are approximately 264,000 cases of breast cancer in the United States each year diagnosed according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in women and around 2,400 in men. Around 42,000 women and 500 men in the US die from the disease each year.
Breast cancer screening typically includes a mammogram, which is an X-ray of the breast.
The panel’s guidance applies to cisgender women and anyone else who was identified as female at birth and who has an average risk of breast cancer. It does not apply to people at high risk of breast cancer, including those with a family history of the disease.
The recommendations of the US Preventive Service Task Force are usually widely adopted in the US those of the panel previous guidewhich was last updated in 2016, suggested that women should start screening every two years at age 50.
That guidance also said women in their 40s could talk to their doctors about screening, especially if they have a family history of breast cancer.
At that time the committee was affected that earlier screenings could lead to unnecessary treatments for younger women, including biopsies that turn out negative. A biopsy is a sample of tissue taken from the body to be tested for a disease such as cancer.
But the panel said it changed those guidelines because of “new and more comprehensive science” about breast cancer in people under 50, said Dr. Carol Mangione, immediate past chair of the US Preventive Services Task Force, in the guidance.
The breast cancer rate in women aged 40 to 49 increased by an average of 2% each year from 2015 to 2019, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The panel said the new guidelines also aim to reduce the disparity in breast cancer death rates between black and white women.
Black women are 40% more likely dying of the disease than their white counterparts and “too often succumbing to fatal cancer at a younger age”, the panel said in the guidelines.
The panel called for “urgent” more research into how inequality could be eliminated.
“Ensuring that Black women start screening by age 40 is an important first step, but it’s not enough to improve the health inequalities we face around breast cancer,” said Dr. Wanda Nicholson, vice chair of the panel, in the guidelines.
Other medical groups, including the American College of Radiology and the American Cancer Societyrecommend annual breast cancer screenings before the age of 50.
About 60% of women aged 40 to 49 years reported Had a mammogram within the past two years in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.