According to a new draft recommendation from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), women with an average risk for breast cancer should start getting mammograms at age 40 instead of the previously recommended start age of 50 to assist in the early detection of breast cancer.
Statistics from the National Cancer Institute showed more women ages 40 to 49 getting diagnosed with breast cancer which prompted the USPSTF to update its guidelines and lower the suggested age for screening. In the U.S., breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women and the second most common cause of cancer death for women. In 2022, about 43,000 women were estimated to die due to breast cancer.
There are certain groups that are at a higher risk for breast cancer and should therefore take extra precautions and undergo early screening. Such risk factors can include a family history of breast cancer, certain genetic mutations, having dense breasts and/or a previous diagnosis of breast cancer. Black women are also more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive cancers at a younger age and are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer. Therefore, getting a breast cancer risk assessment earlier, usually at age 25, is recommended for this group of women to determine when they should begin screening.
Overall, according to the Task Force, by reducing the initial screening to age 40, one additional breast cancer death for every 1,000 women could be prevented. Early screening is beneficial because if breast cancer is detected early, it is almost 100 percent curable. Women with early-stage breast cancers can be cured with fewer and less intensive treatments and surgeries. In terms of screening tools, a mammogram is the most reliable and effective screening method for breast cancer. A mammogram is an X-ray which shows both 2D and 3D images of the entire breast tissue. In some cases, breast ultrasounds can be used as a complementary tool in addition to a mammogram. However, to use an ultrasound in place of a mammogram is not recommended, as ultrasounds have a higher rate of false positives. Similarly, a breast MRI is an additional test that can also be used to detect breast cancer.
Signs and symptoms suggestive of breast cancer includes suspicious changes in the breasts such as new breast lumps, breast pain, and/or unusual skin appearance. If a patient experience any of the above signs and symptoms, a diagnostic mammogram should be done to investigate further and rule out breast cancer.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer, our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at Mossing & Navarre will meet with you at no charge to discuss your case. Contact us today www.mossingnavarrelaw.com or call us at 312-262-6700 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss the details of your case.