The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently released new breast cancer screening guidelines encouraging women to be screened every other year starting at age 40, as opposed to 50, which was the previous recommendation since 2016.
The USPSTF is widely considered to be the most influential voice in health recommendations, working to provide evidence-based recommendations to empower patients and their clinicians to make informed choices beneficial to their overall health.
These new guidelines stemmed from recent data from the National Cancer Institute and the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium, indicating that breast cancer cases among women in their 40s have been rising by a rate of 2 percent annually.
Kevin “Ian” Morley, M.D., director of breast imaging at UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center, is very pleased with this change. He said these new guidelines can detect cancers sooner and save more lives. UofL Health recommends that women 40 and older should schedule an annual mammogram.
“This is a great step forward,” Dr. Morley said. “The best way to decrease mortality is to catch things early before it spreads. We want to see patients for screening every year to make sure they have the best outcomes and move on with their lives.”
Dr. Morley said he already sees patients diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40, with most patients asymptomatic.
“That’s the best case because that usually means it’s the earliest non-detectable cancer,” he said. “The second sign is a palpable lump that does not hurt and is the biggest red flag. And you should definitely get a physical exam and get checked out.”
Dr. Morley emphasized getting breast cancer screenings at age 40 is better for doctors to give their patients more precise recommendations. He strongly encourages women to stay on top of any signs or symptoms of breast cancer, stating breast cancer can affect those as young as 20.
“It’s not the norm, but it can affect very young patients, so don’t blow things off in your 20s or 30s as it can still affect you,” Dr. Morley said.
Dr. Morely emphasized the importance of checking out any small problems you notice immediately to stay on top of your health.
“The later you catch something, and it develops, it could potentially be the worst outcome for our patient,” he said. “That’s why early detection is the best, to make sure they have the best outcome and move on with their life.”
UofL Health is here for all your breast health needs. UofL Health offers comprehensive services, such as 3D mammography options, breast ultrasounds and stereotactic biopsies. If you would like to schedule your mammogram, please call 502-681-1405, or visit Mammogram Screenings to learn more and see locations.