Start mammograms at age 40 not 50

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Incredible progress has been made in our ability to detect small breast cancer when “cure” is highly probable.  New technology gives us the potential to cut breast cancer mortality in half.

Despite the remarkable progress in early detection, new guidelines from a government appointed committee (US Preventative Services Task Force) recommends women start screening at age 50, do it every other year, and stop at age 74.  If congress fails to take definitive action, the USPSTF guidelines will become the standard of care, and insurance companies will have an excuse not to pay for mammograms for women in their forties.

What the public must understand is that breast cancer is in large part a disease of young women.  More years of life are lost for women in their forties than for all the years of life lost for women age 50 and over.  Moreover, the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the Mayo Clinic both recommend starting yearly screening at age 40.

This is not just about women under 50. The task force’s recommendation to do a mammogram every other year and stop at age 74 would also lead to diagnostic delays and increased breast cancer mortality.  It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer by age 85.  Of note, 75% of these women will have no family history or other known risk factors.

The irony of these newly proposed screening guidelines is that they are based on the results of a study that used outdated equipment and poorly trained technicians.  The study concluded that 22% of breast cancers would disappear without treatment even though there has never a documented case of a breast cancer disappearing without standard treatment.  The real conclusion is that the study was flawed!

In the absence of an outcry from the public, insurance companies will soon have an excuse not to pay for screening mammograms for women in their forties.

Please sign our petition requiring insurance companies to pay for yearly screening mammograms starting at age 40 not 50. 

The result of this petition will be sent to the USPSTF and to members of Congress.

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