Four years ago, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a recommendation that advised against routine mammograms for women in their forties. This governing body is responsible for many aspects of screening guidelines that physicians use to advise patients regarding colonoscopies, PAP smears, and prostate checks. The previous guideline recommended that all women over the age of forty undergo annual mammogram screening. The USPSTF has determined that the downsides that come with false positives – such as stress and further testing – outweigh the benefits of potential early detection.
However, it would seem many women disagree. Just last year, the rate of annual mammograms for women in their forties was still 47%, a number slightly higher than in 2008. Physicians seem split on this topic. Many side with the USPSTF and counsel their patients about the drawbacks of routine screening starting at such an early age. Others think that finding breast cancer early is definitely worth it if you can diagnose and treat it quickly.
In the end, the decision about whether or not to undergo annual mammogram screening tests during your forties should be made based upon a detailed and intimate discussion with your doctor. It is helpful to read information provided by groups such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the American Cancer Society. This will help to ensure you can ask your doctor relevant questions about how this decision will affect you. Family history and other risk factors will also play a role. While it is impossible to detect who will get breast cancer, it is important to realize how screening tests can affect your health.