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New study supports mammograms at age 40

According to new research from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, breast cancer screenings beginning at age 40 can significantly reduce breast cancer deaths, compared to screenings beginning at the currently-recommended age of 50.

Presently, the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force recommends mammograms for women every other year, starting at 50.

The new study, published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, used the same modeling scenarios that the task force used, comparing the task force's recommendations with those from the American Cancer Society, which encourages women to screen every year, beginning at age 40.

The difference was significant.

Roughly 71 percent more lives would be saved if women began mammograms at 40 and continued screening every year.

“Task force guidelines have created confusion among women, leading some to forgo mammography altogether. Mammography is one of the few screening tools that has been proven to save lives and our analysis shows that for maximum survival, annual screening beginning at 40 is best,” said Dr. Mark Helvie, director of breast imaging at the University of Michigan.

Recent data have also shown that doctors who read more mammograms have lower false-positive rates, reported U.S. News.

More than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer in women are diagnosed each other in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
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