Breast Cancer Awareness: How Early Should You Be Screened For Breast Cancer? 

New research suggests that annual mammograms – starting at age 40 – reduce death rates by 40 percent. These findings are significant, and timely, as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October quickly approaches. This article is part of Bergen Imaging Center’s breast cancer awareness educational series.  

For years the debate has raged on among medical professionals: at what age – and how often – should women be screened for breast cancer? According to the American Cancer Society, women should begin getting annual mammograms at age 45, yet the US Preventative Task Force recommends biennial screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74, while the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging says annual screening should start at the age of 40.

A recent study sheds light on the issue, and may finally lead to consensus on breast cancer screening guidelines in the medical community. New research published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed medical journal, suggests that annual mammograms beginning at the age of 40 reduce mortality rates by 40 percent.

The researchers used computer modeling to estimate how many breast cancer deaths may be prevented, based on the aforementioned breast cancer screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society, US Preventative Task Force, and American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging.

They found that annual screening mammograms, beginning at age 40, could reduce breast cancer related deaths by nearly 40 percent, compared with 31 percent and 23 percent for the other protocols.

“Our findings are important and novel because this is the first time the three most widely discussed recommendations for screening mammography have been compared head to head,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Elizabeth Kagan Arleo of Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

“Our research would be put to good use if, because of our findings, women chose to begin annual screening mammography starting at age 40. Over the long term, this would be significant because fewer women would die from breast cancer,” she said.

While we await consensus on breast cancer screening guidelines in the medical industry, this study supports what we’ve known for many years: mammograms save lives. If you’re due for your annual mammogram, call or email Bergen Imaging Center to schedule your appointment today.