The Best Preventive Breast Cancer Plan for You

It’s a stat we’re all too familiar with: Nearly one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her lifetime.

With odds that high, how can we stay ahead of it?

Over the past decade, doctors have typically recommended an annual mammogram for women age 40 and above.

Recently, though, opinions have changed.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently released a new set of mammography standards that include a few notable changes:

  • The task force now recommends that only women between the ages of 50 and 74 regularly receive a mammogram.
  • Women ages 50 to 74 should have a mammogram every two years instead of annually.
  • Women between the ages of 40 and 50 should talk with their doctors and consider having a mammogram only if the doctor deems it warranted.

Why the shift?

Citing a high number of unnecessary biopsies and false positives reported in women under the age of 50, the task force says early mammograms can potentially cause more harm than good.

But that claim is not without differing opinions.

Take a look at some opposing thoughts from Dr. Catherine Dang, associate director of the Wasserman Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Program in Cedars-Sinai’s Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute in Los Angeles. An expert in treating benign and malignant breast tumors, Dang believes there’s a benefit to women receiving biopsies early.

As always, it’s important to remember that every woman’s situation is unique, and factors like your personal health and family history may change the advice on when you should start getting mammograms and how frequently you should seek them out. Consult your doctor before making a decision about what preventive care is best for you.

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