A couple of months ago, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) stirred the cancer screening pot with its opinion that mammograms are of limited use as cancer screenings for younger women and that, mostly, only women 50 and older should get them regularly. This month, its recommendation (in draft form) received support from the World Health Organization.
As NPR explained, “The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has just finished its review of mammography to screen for breast cancer, and it, too, concludes that the value of these screening X-rays is ‘limited’ for women in their 40s.”
Both organizations fully support regular mammography for women in their 50s and 60s, and offer their advice for younger women only if they don’t have complicating factors, such as a family history of breast cancer. As usual, mammography is not a one-size-fits-all diagnostic tool, and the USPSTF and the WHO advise women in their 40s to discuss with their doctors their individual circumstances.