The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released new guidelines advocating for more frequent screening intervals for breast cancer detection. ACOG recommends that women begin having yearly mammograms at age 40. In contrast, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended in 2009 that no mammography was needed for low-risk women ages 40 to 50, instead recommending that women receive mammograms every other year beginning at age 50.
With so many different screening recommendations, it can be confusing for women. As a Fellow of the ACOG, I am proud that they are advocating for early detection. Nearly 75 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer are not high-risk and to only screen high-risk women ages 40 to 50 would miss many cases of cancer. Screening mammography has contributed to a reduction in fatal breast cancer cases. In fact, breast cancer diagnosed in younger women is often more aggressive and fatal, so early detection is crucial.
It is also very important for women to be aware of their individual risk for breast cancer. They may be candidates for BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene testing, which might suggest more extensive screening that could lead to early detection.
Overall, I believe women want as much preventive medicine as we can give them. Every woman should discuss preventive care with their OB/GYN at their annual well-woman exam.