New Breast Cancer Advice: Skip Mammograms in 40s and Breast Self-Exams Altogether


breast exam

A government task force has some new advice regarding breast cancer that flies in the face of the guidelines most women have been instructed to follow by their doctors. Here's the gist of it:

  • Most women in their 40s should NOT routinely get mammograms. (This guideline is for the general population, not those women who are at high risk of breast cancer because of family history or gene mutations.)
  • Women 50 to 74 should get a mammogram every other year until they turn 75.
  • The value of breast exams by doctors is unknown. And breast self-exams are of no value.

These new guidelines conflict with the long-standing position of the American Cancer Society, which has been recommending annual mammograms beginning at 40. The guideline addressing breast self-exams is less contentious; medical groups including the cancer society have recently backed away from encouraging women to perform self-exams because there is little evidence showing such exams to be successful.

The reasoning behind this new advice is that screening too early "leads to too many false alarms and unneeded biopsies without substantially improving women's odds of survival." In other words, there is no evidence that screening women in their 40s cuts the risk of dying from breast cancer; moreover, the harms for women of early screening (unneeded biopsies, expense, and worry) outweigh the benefits.

I'm conflicted here: The numbers in the article make sense to me; at the same time I know lots of breast cancer survivors whose lives were saved because of early screening.

Are you comfortable waiting until you turn 50 to have a mammogram? What's your opinion on these new breast cancer guidelines?


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Agent... AgentBrez

oh yeah, something i forgot to add. the article i read when the news first broke said there were NO oncologists on this task force. seems weird to me.

ARmom ARmom

Sorry - I'm not going along with this recommendation.  I will ASK for my mammogram at 40.  Don't forget if you keep up with your yearly paps, your dr does a yearly breast exam as well.  All the more reason to go for those yearly check ups.
And if there is an insurance problem - I'll fight them tooth and nail.  Are they going to say no if you think you felt a lump?  I hope not.

RanaA... RanaAurora

I think it's bullshit and want to spit on the insurance companies doing giddy dances as they realize that they have tons of patients who they don't have to pay for things for for at least 10 more years.  Grr.

As my husband pointed out, we have girls hitting puberty EARLIER now, which only leads to EARLIER problems with the tissue.

This is one of those things where even if the amount of women it helps is almost scientifically irrelevant, if it DOES help, it's WORTH IT.

This whole recommendation pisses me off and disgusts me.  I've heard nothing but outrage from all women, especially my friend who lost her mother to breast cancer... and her mother was in HER THIRTIES.

athenax3 athenax3

It seems very contrary to what we have heard most of our lives, and certainly I don't see how doing self exams are a bad thing, who knows your body better than you? And has the most interest in preserving it? While I can understand wanting to curb undue anxiety, tests and biopsy's, it still seems very odd for them to say that self exams aren't of value.

zweed... zweedledee

People don't understand that by the time they feel a small lump, or find it on a mammogram the woman probably had the cancer for 10 yrs.

And it isn't AN EMERGENCY. And people don't even realize that people can have cancer and it CAN go away. In fact I bet that more than half of the people reading this if not close to all, have cancer in their bodies RIGHT NOW.

The most important thing is for everyone to stop eating CRAP FOR FOOD, poisoning themselves with drugs, cigarettes, and a wide variety of other toxic substances (mercury), and realize that MOST people can prevent cancer.

Don't use mammograms as an excuse to continue an unhealthy lifestyle.

And for God's sake, margarine and diet coke ARE NOT HEALTHY!!



Green... Greenheart

I am not too shocked to hear about the reversal - this is the AMA!!

This is the same group of people that thought smoking was healthy for years; and took until 1950 to decide that it was even connected to cancer.

What I don't like about modern medicine is that they have to quantify everything with numbers, and always change these numbers based on "current studies" - that is a crock, and a sham in itself. Since they constantly change what they think to be "pretinent data."

I hope that most women are intelligent enough to do what they know is right.  Get to know your body, so when something is wrong, you can detect it... prevention is always in your best interest. I am really upset to see a government agency giving such horrible advice, since many are prone to just "follow orders" in this country. Many people can die because of their advice!!


nonmember avatar J Murray an early detector and can be done at any early age as often as necessary with no side effects. Check it out.

Midni... Midnite00

The FDA downplays the radiation of a mammogram. 

"the routine practice of taking two films of each breast results in exposure of about 0.4 rads, focused on the breast rather than on the entire chest. Thus, premenopausal women undergoing annual screening over a ten-year period are exposed to a total of at least four rads for each breast, at least eight times greater radiation than FDA's "cancer risk" level. Such high radiation exposure approximates to that of Japanese women living approximately one mile away from the site of the Hiroshima atom bomb explosion."

Huffinton Post

Really the stories of finding a lump after a self exam yes I would get a mammogram but I am in my forties and my mom started her losing battle in her forties.  I still refuse to get a mammogram unless I feel a lump (ok I did get one after have a dent for 2 months)


BUT I will not have a annual mammogram. PLUS there are studies that women in their forties mammograms cause the splintering of the cancer cells and more than likely the woman needs her breast removed.  that doesn't even  guaranty a recovery, many times the cancer cells travels and  is spread out threw her body. THIS  happens more in younger women.........Many other countries with this same protocol have better odds at breast cancer survival  because they have not been exposed to levels of radiation and they eat better diets...  

Kim Caplicki Romero

Just had a biopsy, and lumpectomy. I do not have to have chemo or radiation because this was caught soo early, they are calling the cells "atypical" that most likely would have developed into breast cancer. I just turned 40. The new guidelines are INSANE. I take tamoxifin now..but chemo would have been worse. THANK GOD I was getting regular mammograms.

Anna154 Anna154

My best fried of 17 years died from breast cancer at the age of 29 !

I watched as the cancer took her away from me. And the fear I carry has never left me.

I am 45 years old and always demand a mammogram. I say  young women should have a mammogram  as soon as they start menstruating.  Who knows, my friend could still be alive if the government  could have realized  the importance of early detection.


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