Government task force recommends mammograms every two years

Lyanne Melendez Image
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Government task force recommends mammograms every two years
A government task force is recommending that women get a mammogram every two years between ages 50 and 74. It says 40-somethings should make their own choice after weighing the pros and cons.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The final recommendations on when a woman should get a mammogram were released Monday.

What the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force came up with is meant to influence many women and their doctors.

For years most women over 40 were told to start getting a routine mammogram once a year, but that blanket policy recommendation has since changed. "The value of mammography increases with age so, women who are older are more likely to benefit from a regular mammography screening. Women between the ages of 50 and 74 have the greatest benefit," U.S. Preventive Services Task Force spokesperson Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo said.

Bibbins-Domingo is the vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which in 2009 made that first recommendation and caused a stir.

Once again the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is standing by this advice, but is not against women getting screened as early as 40, especially those who are at high risk for breast cancer.

Risk factors include age, race, family history, personal health history, early menstruation and late menopause.

UCSF is currently conducting clinical trials to come up with a personalized breast cancer risk assessment for individual women in the study. "If your risk is particularly high, like you have a mutation like brc1 or 2 or some other combination of factors that make you at extremely high risk, you perhaps should be screened every six months," Laura Esserman, M.D., with UCSF said.

The Breast Cancer Fund is an advocacy group. They said when to get tested should be left up to the patient and her doctor. "And it's important that that's taken into account and that we don't just try and say there is a one-size-fits-all treatment or detection for breast cancer," Breast Cancer Fund spokesperson Sharima Rasanayagam said.

In most cases, the U.S. Federal Task Force also recommends a mammogram every two years.