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Recently, the government changed its national recommendations for mammogram testing, from annual tests starting at age 40, to age 50. The move was highly controversial, as many doctors and people believe that early detection of breast cancer is critical to beating the disease.
The choice to change official recommendation, was made in part to align the US with the World Health Organization's opinion of 50 as the year to start getting tested. For years mammograms in Europe have been given starting at age 50, with no statistically relevant differences between number of breast cancer diagnoses given there and in the US.
This isn't to advocate women ignoring or putting off breast cancer screenings, but simply a change in medical opinion about the necessity for women under 40 to consider getting tested. However, women of African-decent represent the largest group of all breast cancer deaths, many of whom are pre-menopausal at death.
Christine Cupaiulo, author of, New Mammogram Guidelines Are Causing Confusion, But Here's Why They Make Sense agrees with the change in opinion. She cites many sources (a variety of women's health organizations, including Our Bodies Ourselvesthe National Women's Health Network and Breast Cancer Action that disagree with the argument in favor of early detection, as chances of death are not, in fact, necessarily decreased by early testing.
But perhaps it is most important for women to remember that talking with their doctor and assessing their own needs is best. For now, the world and America are unified in agreement about 50 being the age to start mammogram testing, while encouraging women to ask questions, seek answers, and be aware of their bodies and any changes that could cause concern.
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