Federal Guidelines for Mammograms
According to the new guidelines, it’s also recommended self-breast exams are no longer used because they claim the self-exams don’t lower breast cancer mortality rates. The National Cancer Institute estimates 200,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. and an estimated 40,000 women died as a result of the cancer in 2010. Due to these facts, those opposing the new guidelines stress early detection is essential for lowering breast cancer mortality rates. Many women in their 40’s are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, even women with no risk factors or family history of the cancer. This furthers the debate that mammograms should be conducted yearly and at younger ages.
One reason the federal guidelines changed for mammograms is due to the fear of potential harmful effects from over screening patients for breast cancer. While mammograms are considered to be safe, there are risks from undergoing mammograms. Often, a mammogram may open the door for further testing to be conducted, such as unnecessary biopsies. Plus, these additional tests may severely increase anxiety.
According to the report released along with the new federal guidelines for mammograms, the report claims mammograms only reduce the breast cancer mortality rate by 15 percent. While these guidelines are recommended, they don’t apply to women who have an increased risk for breast cancer, such as those with a gene mutation or those who have undergone extensive chest radiation. Women who have a family history of breast cancer are still urged to have regular mammograms.