Fewer false positives result from biennial screens.”
Elizabeth T.H. Fontham, MPH, DrPH, member of the ACS Guideline Development Group states, “But once a woman turns 55, screening every other year preserves most of the benefit of screening every year – with fewer risks.”
Clinical breast exams also did not produce enough earlier breast cancer detection benefit. Instead, a CBE could result all too often in a false positive that could then lead to more intervention.
Do other health organizations agree?
No, they don’t, according to the New York Times. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network says that women should have mammograms every year starting at age 40.
“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends mammograms every year or two from 40 to 49, and every year after 50.”
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening mammography every two years and to start later, at age 50-74 years of age. The USPSTF's stand is that it is up to women to decide if they want to start earlier, at ages 40 to 50, or continue after age 75.
What should you do?
The New York Times says that all the groups agree that mammography can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by up to 20 percent, but there is no consensus on when to start.
1) Decide what makes you feel comfortable.
Talk with your health provider about having a mammogram between the ages of 40- 45, and decide jointly what your risk is and what your comfort level is. The same goes for deciding if you want to continue to get them every year after the age of 55.
Insurance still pays for mammograms if they are done between the ages of 40- 45. Insurance reimbursement did not change even when the USPSTF came out with their recommendations to start at age 50 in 2009.
2) If you want to continue self-exams, you can, no one is going to stop you.