CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In a new report released on Tuesday, the American Cancer Society is recommending women can begin annual mammograms at the age of 45. Then, ten years later, at age 55, may switch to a mammogram every other year.
These recommendations replace the guidelines set back in 2003, which recommended annual mammograms begin five years earlier, at the age of 40.
Dr. Rebecca Leddy, the Co-Director of Breast Imaging for the MUSC Department of Radiology, points out these new guidelines also say women should have the opportunity to begin annual screening between the ages of 40 and 44.
Dr. Leddy said,"The incidence of breast cancer increases at the age of 45, and we are still showing that screening mammography detects cancer, and
early detection is critical for survival."
The new recommendations come with some controversy.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says routine screening of average risk women should begin at age 50, and the USPSTF recommends women be screened every two years.
Dr. Leddy said the MUSC Breast Center is following the recommendations of the American College of Radiology, and the Society of Breast Imaging,
which recommend screening begin at age 40.
What the impact the renewed guidelines will have on medical insurance payments for mammograms for women under the age of 45 remains to be seen.
A spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield says since the guidelines were released Monday, at the moment, there will be no changes. But she indicated the company will review the data with doctors, and then make a recommendation.
Dr. Leddy said the USPSTF recommendations were made in 2009, and insurance companies have been willing to screen for mammography at the age of 40.
"We haven't seen any backlash for women asking for it," Dr. Leddy said.
It is estimated in the U.S. about 230-thousand women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40-thousand women will die of the disease this year.
The American Cancer Society's 2015 recommendations for breast cancer screening for women at average risk of cancer include the following:
- Women should undergo regular screening mammography starting at age 45.
- Women 45 to 54 years of age should be screened annually.
- Women 55 years and older should transition to every other year screening or have the opportunity to continue annual screening.
- Women should have the opportunity to begin annual screening between the ages of 40 and 44 years.
- Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good and they have a life expectancy of 10 years or longer.
- Clinical breast examination is not recommended for breast cancer screening among average-risk women of any age.