Early Disease Detection

Women View New Breast Cancer Guidelines As “Unsafe”

A survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester determined that more than 80 percent of women felt that the recommendation against having women under the age of 50 undergo breast cancer screening is unsafe.

Reuters featured the results of the study, and shared the following quote from the article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: “Indeed, they have been exposed to consistent and high profile media campaigns, endorsed by medicine and a variety of interest groups, that have indoctrinated them into the concepts that mammograms lead to early detection and early detection saves lives.”

mammogramMost women, however, overestimate their risk for developing breast cancer.

In late 2009, a group of independent experts funded by the government changed the recommendation regarding screening mammography. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that women should only start undergoing routine screening upon reaching the age of 50. Furthermore, women between the ages of 50 and 74 are advised to undergo mammograms every two years.

The decision to undergo screening mammography among women under the age of 50 is left to the discretion of the individual woman concerned, and her attending physician.

The survey involved the distribution of questionnaires to 247 women in their 40s who underwent annual well-woman exams. Of these respondents, Dr. Autumn Davidson and her colleagues determined that more than eight out of ten women preferred to undergo annual mammograms. They also incorrectly assessed the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer among women in the US at 37 percent; scientists indicate that 12 percent, or one in eight women, will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

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