However, some experts believe the panel overestimated the harms of more frequent screenings. The appropriate schedule for screenings can vary from doctor to doctor and from patient to patient and has become quite confusing.
“A lot of women may not even know the guidelines or know that mammography has its drawbacks and that they have an option to start screening by age 45 or 50,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Marti, assistant professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine who led the new study, said in an interview. “In almost every other country women start at the age of 50.”
While many women might assume that “the benefits of breast cancer screening outweigh the harm,” said Dr. Marti, this is not always the case with women who are not at risk.
Dr. Marti and her co-authors Mark Lee and Neal Patel, two Weill Cornell researchers, decided to review the recommendations published on the websites of around 606 breast cancer centers in the United States. They found that 376 centers – more than half – made recommendations that differed from those of the U.S. Task Force. Women with an average risk of breast cancer should start imaging by age 40.
And 347 centers said women should not just start at 40 but should continue annually.
Stricter screening might be appropriate for some high-risk populations, such as Ashkenazi Jewish women, who are more likely to carry mutations that put them at risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and black women, who were likely underrepresented in mammography screening studies, Dr. Said Marti.
Women who need help assessing their individual risk in order to make screening decisions can use an online tool developed by Dr. Margaret Polaneczky, a gynecologist from Weill Cornell Medicine, and Elena Elkin, a scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, suggested Dr. Marti in front.
I myself have a two-year plan for a while. I do regular breast self-exams and also have clinical breast exams. Although I felt a little irrational guilt after receiving the text messages, I politely asked a receptionist to please stop calling. I promised to keep in touch.