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Get Regular Mammograms Starting Age 40, US Panel Tells Women

The new guidelines are for over 20 million women in the US who are between the ages of 40-49.

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A health experts' panel in the United States has asked women to start getting regular mammograms at age 40, instead of the earlier recommended age of 50.

The revised guidelines came on Tuesday, 9 May, amid increased incidence of breast cancer diagnosis and "persistently high death rates among Black women in particular," The New York Times reported. 

The US Preventive Services Task Force has especially asked those at risk to take this advice seriously, stating that twice as many younger black women, compared to white women, die of breast cancer each year. 

Here’s all you need to know.

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Who should care? The new guidelines are for over 20 million women in the US who are between the ages of 40 - 49. 

“We don’t really know why there has been an increase in breast cancer among women in their 40s. But when more people in a certain age group are getting a condition, then screening of that group is going to be more impactful.”
Dr Carol Mangione, immediate past chairperson, US Preventive Services Task Force, to New York Times

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the world. It’s also the second leading cause of death in women struggling with cancer. 

How often should one get screened? Women between the ages of 40-74 should get screened at least once every two years, according to the new draft guidelines.

But there are exceptions to this as well. Women who come in the following categories should consult their doctors for how often they need to be screened:
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  • Those who have already had breast cancer

  • Those who might have genetic mutations

  • Those who have previously found breast lesions in their biopsies

Karen E Knudsen, CEO of the cancer society, however told NYT, "We are steadfast on annual screening."

Cancers in premenopausal women grow faster, and it’s important they don’t develop during the two-year period and go undetected.”
Karen E Knudsen, CEO, Cancer Society

What next? The panel has stated that more research is still needed to understand why there’s a “racial disparity.” There’s also a need to evaluate how much these screenings in younger women would help. 

(Written with inputs from New York Times.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Breast Cancer 

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