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Update on Mammogram Screening Guidelines

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November 17, 2009

Federal Task Force Changes Recommended Mammogram Screening Guidelines

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent government-appointed panel, has changed its recommendations for routine mammograms for women age 40 to 49 as well as for older women.

After reevaluating its 2002 screening recommendations, the USPSTF stated that the potential harm from annual mammograms beginning at age 40 outweighs any benefit. It now recommends that women 50 to 74 have routine mammograms every other year. It no longer recommends annual routine screenings for women beginning at age 40 or beyond age 75.

Potential harm cited by the USPSTF included false positive results that could require unnecessary additional follow-up screenings or treatment, or false negatives, when breast cancer isn’t detected by the x-ray.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) continues to recommend annual mammogram screenings beginning at age 40, as well as breast examination by a health care professional, which USPSTF does not.

HealthyWomen recommends that you ask your health care professional about breast cancer screening recommendations with your personal health history in mind.

View a comparison of the ACS and USPSTF breast screening recommendations here.

Learn more about breast cancer here.

For more information on USPSTF, visit: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm#Recommendations