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Younger women still getting mammograms, despite new guidelines

9:37 AM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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NEW YORK - Susan Surette, 36, has never had a mammogram, but she plans to have her first one in the coming years.

"Definitely soon," she said. "I think it depends on if you have it in your family history."

In 2009, the United States Preventative Services Task Force recommended against annual mammograms for women at average risk for breast cancer between the ages of 40 and 49. Almost four years later, a new study out of Brigham and Women's Hospital shows mammography rates have not declined among women in their 40s.

"I think it's pretty clear that women understand the value of mammography," said Dr. Paul Tartter of Roosevelt Hospital.

Researchers looked at data on nearly 28,000 women before and after the new screening recommendations were made.

Many groups, including the American Cancer Society, still recommend women start annual mammograms at age 40.

Tartter says while early testing can lead to unnecessary biopsies, the risk is worth the benefit.

"The cancers that mammograms pick up are the early cancers, the noninvasive cancers that are very curable," Tartter said.

Surette thinks women should be able to make up their own minds.

"You have to be your own health advocate," Surette said.

She has three young daughters and says she will be screened early and often for herself and for them.

The American Cancer Society estimates about 232,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year in women.