Should you get a mammogram if you’re under 50?

Below are the new guidelines from the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the recommendations from The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center.

The Breast Care Center still believes in the benefits of mammography for women under 50 but wants you to have all the information to make a decisions that’s right for you.

Highlights of the USPSTF recommendations include:

  • For women between the ages of 50 and 74, screening mammograms every two years rather than every year
  • Recommends against teaching breast self-exams
  • There is insufficient evidence to assess the benefit and harm of screening in women over 74

Note: These recommendations are for women at average risk of breast cancer. The USPSTF says women at increased risk as a result of family or personal history may need to begin screening at a younger age or get advice about a screening from their physician.

Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius’, Statement November 18, 2009:

"Ignore the new USPSTF advisory recommendations for now. This is an outside independent panel of doctors and scientists who make recommendations; they do not set Federal policy nor determine what services are covered by the Federal Government."

The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center:

Although there is some statistical validity and reliability to the Task Force’s suggestions, especially the debate regarding false positive testing and unnecessary biopsies in younger women, the focus for our patients is to balance the risk and benefit of mammography.

We believe that mammography is still the optimal screening tool for the early diagnosis of breast cancer. To restrict its use in women under 50 will mean breast cancers will go undiagnosed for an unacceptable period of time. Digital mammographic screening is superior to the older analog technique and should enable us to detect breast cancers better, thus improving the survivor rate of women between ages 40 and 50. We will continue to recommend regular self breast exams and screening annually for women beginning at age 40.

"The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center believes that it is important for women of all ages to educate themselves about the potential risks and benefits of screening by talking with their physicians and making decisions that are right for them."

Mary T. Pronovost, MD Donna J. Twist, PhD
Medical Director Executive Director / VP Development