PENNSYLVANIA – The American Cancer Society (ACS) today released new, weakened breast cancer screening guidelines, changing the recommended age for women to begin yearly mammograms to age 45 and every two years after age 55. Previously, the guidelines suggested annual mammograms beginning at age 40 for average risk women.
American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Guidelines – published 10/20/15
- Women with an average risk of breast cancer – most women – should begin yearly mammograms at age 45.
- Women should be able to start the screening as early as age 40, if they want to. It’s a good idea to start talking to your health care provider.
- At age 55, women should have mammograms every other year – though women who want to keep having yearly mammograms should be able to do so.
- Regular mammograms should continue as long as a woman is in good health.
- Breast exams, either from a medical provider or self-exams, are no longer recommended.
The American Cancer Society bases its shift in suggested age and frequency on the occurrence of false positives/false alarms. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) cautions women in Pennsylvania on these latest, more confusing guidelines.
“This is a step in the wrong direction,” said PA Breast Cancer Coalition President and Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy. “Most women we speak with would prefer to have a second mammogram or an ultrasound rather than to find cancer at a later, less treatable stage. The advent of 3D mammograms will alleviate much of the ACS’s concern over false positives since 3D mammograms reduce false alarms by 27 percent and increase early detection by 20 percent. The PBCC continues to recommend mammograms for women beginning at age 40 for the average woman until a more perfect test is developed.”
Pennsylvania law requires insurers to cover the cost of all mammograms once a year for women beginning at age 40. Governor Tom Wolf, First Lady Frances Wolf and the PBCC announced earlier this month that 3D mammograms are covered under the same law for women insured in Pennsylvania effective immediately.
About the PA Breast Cancer Coalition
The PBCC represents, supports and serves breast cancer survivors and their families in Pennsylvania through educational programming, legislative advocacy and breast cancer research grants. The PBCC is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure now…so our daughters won’t have to. For more information, please call 800-377-8828 or visit www.PABreastCancer.org.