Updated Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Reflect Heightened Risk for Black Women & WOC

Two leading imaging groups are advocating for women to start screening mammograms at age 40, and calling for heightened screening attention for black and minority women.

New American College of Radiology® (ACR®) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) published the updated recommendations in the Journal of the American College of Radiology in June (2021). While the guidance issued on the recommended age of screening remained the same, more data was added to support the recommendation for women of color (WOC).

Breast Cancer Risk for Black Women, Women of Color

Minority women are 72 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50. They are 58 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white women to be diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer before the age of 50 as well.

The term minority women, often referred to as BIWOC (Black Indigenous and Women of Color) or WOC, includes Hispanic, American Indian, Asian and non-Hispanic Black women, among others.  WOC are 127 percent more likely than white women to die of breast cancer before their 50th birthday.

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

The ACR and SBI continue to recommend that women have a risk assessment at age 30 to see if screening prior to age 40 is needed, and those at average breast cancer risk begin screening at age 40.

The societies also recommend that women continue screening past age 74, unless severe comorbidities limit life expectancy.

“New evidence continues to support annual screening starting at age 40, with closer attention given to minority women in underserved populations,” said Stamatia Destounis MD, FACR, chief of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission.

“Mounting data and more inclusive screening recommendations should remove any thought that regular screening is controversial.”