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Mammography Cut Back in American Cancer Society Guidelines

  • Recommendations closer to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  • Debate over breast screening frequency likely to continue
If women at the highest risk for aggressive breast cancer can be identified, they would be most likely to benefit and less likely to be harmed by earlier and more aggressive screening.

If women at the highest risk for aggressive breast cancer can be identified, they would be most likely to benefit and less likely to be harmed by earlier and more aggressive screening.

Photograph: Getty Images
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The American Cancer Society changed its guidelines for early breast cancer detection, recommending that women wait until age 45 instead of 40 to start annual mammograms, then slow the pace at 55 to screenings every other year.

The recommendation is designed to reduce erroneous results that require additional imaging and biopsies that find no cancer, creating unnecessary alarm and adding the risks that come with surgery. The decision more closely aligns the influential U.S. health organization with other recent guidelines that are profoundly changing decades-old medical conventions and the care for millions of women.