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Should we be getting mammograms earlier than currently recommended?

By April 21, 2008 - 1:13pm
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Since Cynthia Nixon just talked about her breast cancer (I believe detected by a mammogram in her very early 40s) as well as Cheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge also in their early 40s. Kylie Minogue was in her mid 30s.

And of course, there are the thousands of young women out there we haven't heard of.

Routine mammograms are advised to women starting in their 40s. I know breast tissue is denser when we are younger so cancer is less detectable but it seems breast cancer is being seen in younger and younger women.

I'm wondering if this advice should be changed and directed at women starting in their 30s?

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Thanks for your post. At least one organization whole-heartedly agrees -- The Young Survival Coalition. Here are some barriers they claim prevent women under 40 from receiving proper diagnosis...

-- Many young women and their doctors are unaware that they are at risk for breast cancer;

-- There is no effective breast cancer screening tool for women 40 and under;

-- Young women are often diagnosed at a later stage than their older counterparts;

-- There is very little research or educational material focused on issues unique to this younger population, such as fertility, pregnancy, genetic predisposition, the impact of hormonal status on the effectiveness of treatment, psycho-social and long-term survivorship issues, and higher mortality rates for young women, particularly for African-Americans and Latinas;

--Young women diagnosed with breast cancer often feel isolated and have little contact with peers who can relate to what they are experiencing;

-- As the incidence of young women with breast cancer is much lower than in older women, young women are underrepresented in many research studies.

Based on this info, maybe it's time to reconsider the best time for testing.

April 22, 2008 - 9:51am
EmpowHER Guest

absolutely! The only reason we don't 'screen' women under 40 years old is because we haven't demanded it and because the powers that be ie the insurance companies who don't want to cover it and the physicians who won't get paid for additional work-ups are against it. I know of one breast cancer organization that routinely offers services to women under 40 and has a great program With 1 in 207 women under 40 being diagnosed and with breast cancer being the number one killer of women ages 24 to 54, we sure need some kind of system to detect it earlier than it is now.

April 21, 2008 - 5:27pm
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