Yearly mammogram after 40 has high rate of false alarms: Study

September 17, 2017

???Women and physicians should be aware of the possibility of these harms associated with different screening intervals so they can make informed decisions about screening and be prepared for what to expect when they receive their results,??? the authors wrote. Hubbard said the findings should be used by doctors to help women them make an informed decision about screening mammograms.

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government-backed advisory panel, issued new guidelines that suggested women should start routine mammograms at age 50 rather than 40, in part because the tests have such high false positive rates and the benefits in lives saved did not outweigh the worry and anguish caused by the false positive results. Many groups, including the American Cancer Society, have stuck by their long-standing recommendations of a yearly breast exam for women starting at age 40, stressing that the breast X-rays have been proven to save lives by spotting tumors early, when they are most easily treated.

In another study in the same issue of the journal researchers compared digital versus traditional film mammography and found little difference in breast cancer detection rates in women age 50 to 79. However, women age 40 to 49 with dense breasts may benefit from digital mammography, the authors said.