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New mammogram guidelines from U.S. panel say breast cancer screenings should start at age 40

New guidelines suggest earlier mammograms
New mammogram guidelines say screenings should start at 40 02:19

Breast cancer screenings should be done every other year starting at age 40, for women at average risk, according to draft guidance issued Tuesday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of national experts.

That's 10 years earlier than the panel previously recommended in 2016. Before, the recommendation was for women in their 40s to make an individual decision about screenings based on their health history.

"New and more inclusive science about breast cancer in people younger than 50 has enabled us to expand our prior recommendation and encourage all women to get screened every other year starting at age 40," Dr. Carol Mangione, immediate past chair of the task force, said in a press release. "This new recommendation will help save lives and prevent more women from dying due to breast cancer."

According to the press release, the panel hopes the change could result in 19% more lives saved. 

Other organizations already recommend annual mammograms before age 50, including the American College of Radiology.

Aside from skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, accounting for about 30% of all new female cancers each year.

The task force's statement also addressed health disparities, noting that Black women are "40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women and too often get deadly cancers at younger ages."

"In our draft recommendation, we underscore the importance of equitable followup after screening and timely and effective treatment of breast cancer and are urgently calling for more research on how to improve the health of Black women," Dr. Wanda Nicholson, vice chair of the task force, said in the release.

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