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Task Force Recommends Breast Cancer Screening Should Begin at Age 40

According to a new draft recommendation statement, the US Preventive Services Task Force proposes that women with an average risk for breast cancer begin screening at age 40 to reduce their risk of death.

It is a change from the 2016 recommendation, in which the task force recommended that biennial mammograms (breast x-rays) begin at age 50 and that the decision for women to screen in their 40s “should be an individual one.”

Some organizations, including the American Cancer Society, have recommended that women begin mammograms in their forties.

USPSTF Vice Chair Dr. Wanda Nicholson, senior associate dean, and professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, told CNN,

“Our new task force recommendation recommends that women begin breast cancer screening with mammography at age 40 and continue screening every other year until age 74.”

The USPSTF, a group of independent medical experts whose recommendations help steer doctors’ decisions and influence insurance plans, proposed an update to its breast cancer screening recommendations on Tuesday, May 9.

The task force announced it would share a draft evidence review and draft modeling report along with the non-final recommendation on their website for public comments until June 5.

The proposed recommendation is for all individuals assigned female at birth, including cisgender women, trans men, and nonbinary individuals, to be at ordinary risk for breast cancer.

According to Nicholson, women with dense breasts and a family history of cancer typically fall into this category, but not women whose family history contains breast cancer or genetic mutations, such as mutations on the BRCA gene, as they are regarded as being at high risk.

The revisions would not apply to those with an increased risk of breast cancer who may have already been advised to undergo screening at age 40 or earlier.

However, they should adhere to the monitoring procedures recommended by their physicians.

Black women reportedly have the highest incidence of breast cancer-related deaths in America.

Nicholson stated that the revised recommendation “will save more lives among all women.”

This is especially significant for Black women, who have a 40% higher risk of breast cancer-related death.

According to the JAMA Network Open, the breast cancer death rate among women in their 40s was 27 per 100,000 person-years for Black women, compared to 15 per 100,000 for white women and 11 per 100,000 for American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic, and Asian or Pacific Islander women.

As a result, researchers recommended that Black women begin screening at an earlier age, 42, as opposed to 50.


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