Health officials update guidance for breast cancer screenings for women 40 and over

The US Preventive Services Task Force is recommending that all women get screened for breast cancer at the age of 40 through 74 every other year.

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The US Preventive Services Task Force is a volunteer panel of independent medical experts whose recommendations are supposed to help doctors make decisions and influence insurance plans, according to CNN.

“More women in their 40s have been getting breast cancer, with rates increasing about 2 percent each year, so this recommendation will make a big difference for people across the country,” task force chair Wanda Nicholson, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. said in a news release. “By starting to screen all women at age 40, we can save nearly 20 percent more lives from breast cancer overall. This new approach has even greater potential benefit for Black women, who are much more likely to die of breast cancer.”

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women in the country. CNN reported that skin cancer is the number one most common cancer in women while lung cancer is third.

The benefits of getting screened sooner and more regularly include helping to diagnose breast cancer cases early enough that they have not spread, and helping to reduce the number of people who are dying from breast cancer, CNN reported.

“We need to know how best to address the health disparities related to breast cancer so all women can live longer and healthier lives,” Task Force Vice Chair John Wong, M.D. said. “Clinicians must help reduce any barriers to patients getting the recommended screening, timely, equitable, and appropriate follow-up, and effective treatment of breast cancer.”

The new guidance was first drafted in May 2023, Good Morning America reported.

The updated recommendations are not expected to impact insurance coverage, according to Good Morning America. Mammograms should be covered for all women 40 years old and older by law.

More information can be found on the US Preventive Services Task Force’s website.

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