Experts Weigh in on Mammograms Starting at 40

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By Elspeth Mizner

A national health panel recommends that women start getting mammograms at the age of 40 compared to 50. They also recommend getting mammograms every other year.

Health experts have found that starting mammograms earlier can help with early detection for breast cancer, which can save lives.

Although, men can get breast cancer too, these recommendations for getting mammograms starting at the age of 40 are for women.

Dr. Bill Dahut, the Chief Scientific Officer for the American Cancer Society believes this is a step in the right direction, but thinks women should be getting mammograms every year, rather than every other year. Especially since cancer can be more aggressive and grow faster in younger women.

“A lot of cancers that develop in younger women are actually more rapidly growing. And I think finding a cancer earlier on where it’s still treatable, resectable or treated perhaps you know, with radiation and lumpectomy will lead to therapies that can actually be effective before the cancer as an opportunity to spread”, said Dr. Dahut.

Locally, Dr. Margret Glenn, a Breast radiologist at UPMC Hamot and also thinks this a great step in the right direction and also believes mammograms should be done annually and the interval between exams should be shorter.

Dr. Glenn said she has seen women from all different backgrounds and stressed the importance of putting one’s health first. Dr. Glenn also said that starting mammograms earlier can spot cancer sooner especially since cancer found in younger women is often more aggressive and can grow faster. “They tend to get more aggressive types of cancer. There’s different receptors that we check for, and there’s several different types of cancer, and they tend to be more aggressive. They tend to grow at a more rapid rate, and they tend to cause a lot more problems in younger women. So the sooner we can detect them, the sooner we can take care of these patients”, said Dr. Glenn.

Every woman and body is different so health experts said it’s best to consult with your doctor about when you should start getting your yearly mammograms. For example, if breast cancer runs in your family, it may be smart to start getting your mammograms before the age of 40, but always consult with your doctor.


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