The American Cancer Society’s new recommendations in regard to breast cancer screening have, to say the least, resulted in some controversy. The society raised a lot of eyebrows – and created some confusion as well – by recommending that women wait until age 45 to get a yearly mammogram.
With these new recommendations, that means that three major health groups now have three different guidelines. These include:
- The American Cancer Society – Women should start yearly mammograms at age 45.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Women should begin having mammograms each year beginning at age 40.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – Women should have mammograms each year starting at the age of 50.
However, the American Cancer Society makes it clear that women who either have certain risk factors for breast cancer, such as a family history of the disease or others, should not only undergo screening at an earlier age but also be screened on a more frequent basis.
The society also recommends that women who are age 55 or older get a mammogram every two years rather than annually. It bases this recommendation on the fact that the disease tends to develop slower in post-menopausal women.
According to a recent report on CNN, several critics of the society’s new guidelines are finding fault with them because they are largely based on the findings of film mammography rather than digital mammography. A digital mammography, according to critics, has a lower chance of leading to a false positive result.
In addition, critics say the society chose to focus on whether breast cancer screening saved a life, rather than looking at how screening can lead to early detection.