Many views on screening: Women of all ages, doctors can tailor a testing approach based on risk factors:
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force sticks by its controversial 2009 decision to recommend mammograms every two years for women ages 50 to 74, though women who wish to start before then can talk to their doctor about it. The panel also advises doctors against teaching patients how to examine their own breasts.
Meanwhile, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, a grass-roots advocacy group, believes there is “insufficient evidence to recommend for or against universal screening mammography in any age group of women,” and “the decision to undergo screening for asymptomatic women must be made on an individual level based on a woman’s personal preferences, family history and risk factors.”
Women younger than 50, who are more likely to have false positives and overtreatment of cancers that would never cause symptoms or threaten a woman’s life. Mammograms also are more likely to miss cancer in younger women because their breast tissue is denser, making tumours harder to spot.
In women with the densest breasts, mammography can miss half of cancers later found on ultrasound, according to a 2002 ( Journal Radiology)
Screening guidelines change for women considered at high risk ie their lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is greater than 20 percent.