The ACOG Issues New Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

hand holding breast cancer ribbon( — Women in their 40s should get the chance to have annual mammogram, according to new guidelines recently issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

The new recommendation from ACOG, which represents practicing obstetricians and gynecologists who advise patients, contradicts guidelines issued two years ago by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government panel of experts which advised women start screenings every two years at age 50.

ACOG’s guidelines further fuels the debate over when women should get mammograms. But its recommendation echoes those of other major health organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

“We believe it is our job to help women make the best health decision for themselves,” says Jennifer Griffin, M.D. of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and one of ACOG’s authors of the new recommendations told Reuters.

“We believe that many women will choose to have a screening mammogram every year, (and) of course there are women that will choose not to,” she says.

ACOG’s guidelines are for women with an average risk for breast cancer – not those with family history of the disease.

“As with any screening test, there are cancers that are missed by screening,” Griffin says. “Women should be aware that if something changes in their breast, even if they’ve had a normal screening mammogram, they should let their doctors know.”

In 2009, the USPS task force advised women to start regular mammograms at age 50 instead of 40 and get them less frequently – every two years instead of annually. The goal was to reduce overtreatment for slow-growing cancers that pose little threat, and to reduce the number of false alarms on mammograms, which often occurred with additional testing.

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