(The Hill) — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on Tuesday released new guidance advising that women begin receiving annual breast cancer screenings at age 40, 10 years earlier than its previous recommendation, citing updated research.
“All women are now encouraged to get screened for breast cancer every other year starting at age 40, thanks to new and more inclusive science about breast cancer in people younger than 50 that has enabled the Task Force to expand its prior recommendation,” the USPSTF said in a statement.
The independent volunteer panel of physicians’ recommendation was Grade B, meaning the task force believes with high certainty this guidance has a “moderate to substantial” net benefit. This guidance is an update on the USPSTF’s final recommendation in 2016 that advised women to make individual decisions in their 40’s on when to start getting screened.
The recommendation applies to all women who have an average risk of breast cancer, which includes those who have a family history of breast cancer and other risk factors such as dense breasts.
This guidance does not apply to individuals who have a personal history of breast cancer, are at very high risk due to certain genetic markers, have a history of high-dose radiation therapy to their chest at a young age or have had high-risk lesion on previous biopsies.
“New and more inclusive science about breast cancer in people younger than 50 has enabled us to expand our prior recommendation and encourage all women to get screened every other year starting at age 40,” former USPSTF chair Carol Mangione said in a statement.
In its announcement, the panel noted that Black women often get deadly cancers at younger ages and are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
“Timely and effective treatment for breast cancer has the potential to save more lives for people experiencing disparities related to racism, lack of access to care in rural communities, low income, and other factors,” the organization stated.