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Recent Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations Called Into Question

A new study shows that the US Preventative Task Force's current recommendations for breast cancer screening may not be based on the most solid science available. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and published in the January 2011 edition of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

In November 2009, the US Preventative Task Force issued recommendations saying that women should have a mammography screening every other year starting at age 50 and continuing until age 74.

The University of Colorado researchers used the same data as the US Preventative Task Force and found that yearly screenings would save significantly more lives than screenings every other year. They also found that women should start these screenings at 40 rather than 50 and continue through 80 years of age.

Beginning yearly mammograms at age 40 would reduce breast cancer deaths by 40%, compared to a 23% reduction with screenings every other year beginning at age 50. Overall, following the researchers’ guidelines rather than those of the Task Force would save 71% more lives of those diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to the researchers, the US Preventative Task Force ignored recent data when they created their recommendations, and they are calling for new recommendations to be given for breast cancer screening. They say that the recommendations that were established in 2009 confuse many women, leading some women to forego mammography altogether.

The US Cancer Society supports these new findings as well, highlighting the fact that 209,060 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,230 will die from the disease. It claims that more frequent screenings could significantly reduce these mortality rates.

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