The guidelines have not changed for women with risk factors, including family or personal history of breast cancer, having the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation or certain other genetic syndromes or having received radiation treatment to the chest at a young age. Women with risk factors need to speak with their doctor to determine if they need genetic testing, earlier and more frequent mammograms and additional screening such as ultrasound or MRI.
The breast cancer screening recommendations, based on a dispassionate review of clinical research, are designed to reduce harm from false-positive results, including the anxiety, pain and expense of biopsies, most of which turn out to be negative.
The task force found that mammograms in women older than 50 are more effective at saving lives than in women in their 40s. One cancer death is prevented for every 1,904 women in their 40s who are screened for 10 years, the task force found, compared with one death for every 1,339 women in their 50s, and one death for every 377 women in their 60s.