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Clearing Mammogram Confusion
Story Updated: May 15, 2012
A new study might help a lot of women decide when to start getting mammograms.
Some confusion does surround this issue. The American Cancer Society says most women should start at age 40. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends 50, though some women might want to start earlier based on their specific needs.
In this new report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers reviewed 66 studies to see which factors raise women's risk of breast cancer while they're in their 40s. Knowing the effect of these factors may help guide their breast-screening decisions during this time.
Having first-degree relatives who've had breast cancer makes a woman at least twice as likely to develop the disease.
Mammography can cause harm. It can lead to stress if it finds a false-positive result. And it can open the door for procedures you didn't really need.
However, the benefits of getting a mammogram every two years outweigh the risks for these particular women, who are at increased risk for developing breast cancer, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute-funded study.
When deciding when to start mammograms, talk to your doctor about any risk factors that should affect this decision, and the potential benefits a mammogram may provide.
I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the news that doctors are reading; health news that matters to you.