On Monday, a government task force reversed a longstanding recommendation from the American Cancer Society surrounding the frequency at which women should receive a mammogram, a well-known breast cancer screening procedure, typically administered annually to women over 40.
For the past two decades, the American Cancer Society has recommended that women over 40 years of age receive a mammogram annually. However, a new task force reported that that the test is not necessary, and in fact can be harmful for women up to 50 years of age. This policy is a major reversal that conflicts with the American Cancer Society’s long-standing position and has left women concerned about their breast health.
While many women might find the procedure invasive and uncomfortable, medical professionals have spoken regarding the importance of regularly receiving this exam. Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. According to a report from Newsday more than 192,000 new cases and 40,000 deaths from the disease are expected in the U.S.this year.
Some medical professionals have emphasized that despite these new recommendations, women should still educate themselves and be strong advocates for their own health, particularly their own breast health.
Though some doctors are supportive of this new recommendation, others are skeptical.
Dr. Marisa Weiss, the founder of Breastcancer.org and an oncologist who practices at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, Pa. told the New York Times: “We know mammography overperforms and finds things that will never be life-threatening, and we know it underperforms in some women. But it has no chance to perform in women who don’t get it.”