Wait, What?: New Study Says to Get Mammograms Younger
Ladies, if you’re not already thoroughly confused about when and how often to get a mammogram, there’s this: A new study which flies in the face of a previous study and government recommendations to hold off on getting mammograms until age 50. The new study, conducted by Harvard University researchers, says mammograms before age 50 are not only important—they could save a lot of lives.
The study looked 7,301 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer at Boston-area hospitals between 1990 and 1999 and tracked them until 2007. Of the 609 who died of breast cancer in that time, 71 percent had not had mammograms—either regularly or ever—before being diagnosed. Twenty-nine percent of those who died had undergone screenings. And get this: Half of the women who died were under age 50, and only 13 percent were 70 or older.
The findings “suggest less, or less frequent screening at ages older than 69 years, but more, or more frequent screening for women younger than 50 years,” the researchers wrote in their study published today (Sept. 9) in the journal Cancer. Breast cancer tends to be more aggressive in younger women, but less aggressive in older women, said Dr. Blake Cady, a professor emeritus of surgery at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
For its part, the American Cancer Society has always maintained that women should start getting annual mammograms at age 40. The CDC recommends mammograms every two years for women between ages 50 and 74.