Q: What do you make of the new mammogram screening recommendations? I am still confused! – Ann, 47
A: We having been hearing this a lot lately! Unfortunately, the new mammogram screening recommendations (from The US Preventive Services Task Force) are causing a lot of confusion for women now. Basically, the new recommendations of biannual screening starting at 50 are probably ok if you choose to wait that long, as long as you have NO risk factors for breast cancer. The caveat of that is that many patients who develop breast cancer have no risk factors at all.
Specific risk factors for breast cancer are:close relative having breast cancer, history of artificial hormone use (for any period of time), smoking, drinking alcohol, a diet poor in vegetables, low Vitamin D levels, and excess weight (>20 pounds overweight). Also, having PMS (a progesterone-deficiency) might be a potential risk factor, as well.
Our recommendations are to continue with the American Cancer Society recommendations of annual screening at 40 if you have any risk factors at all; or if you feel more comfortable with that. If you truly want to wait until you’re 50, please do so only if you do not have any risk factors. Personally, I’ve seen way too many patients under the age of 50 who have had breast cancer!