An influential task force that answers to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today released new guidelines that say many women can scale back on mammograms.
For years women were told to begin annual screenings at age 40. Today, the new guidelines recommend women begin screening at age 50 and do it every other year.
The task force also says self breast exams are not helpful and recommends against teaching the practice.
It's important to note: the new recommendations don't apply to those with a high risk (for example, a woman with strong family history).
The recommendations have stirred up emotional debate with many oncologists locally speaking out against the new guidelines. I also spoke with a cancer survivor who has become an advocate for the importance of early detection. She told me that she is disappointed by the new recommendations.
Read about the task force: www.ahrq.gov/CLINIC/uspstfix.htm
Read all of the recommendations: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspsbrca.htm
Reaction from the American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org/docroot/MED/content/MED_2_1x_American_Cancer_Society_Responds_to_Changes_to_USPSTF_Mammography_Guidelines.asp