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Friday
Apr292011

Debate Continues: Should Women in Their 40s Be Regularly Screened for Breast Cancer?

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The debate about whether or not it is beneficial for American women in their 40s to have regular breast cancer screenings has started up again, HealthDay News reports.

One of two studies released Friday and presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons in Washington, D.C., found that mammograms detected smaller breast cancers in women 40 to 49. They also observed a reduced chance of spread to the lymph nodes with the mammography screening rather than with clinical breast exams.

But the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued guidance in 2009, which advises that women not bearing an increased risk of breast cancer do not need regular mammography screening until they have reached age 50.  The USPSTF adds that women in their 40s should undergo screening on an individual-basis after discussing it with their doctor.

In the other study presented at the meeting, researchers analyzed the medical data of nearly 47,000 American women with breast cancer.  They found that only 22.6 percent of these women were in the 40 to 49 age group, while 77.4 percent were between the ages of 50 and 74.

What these researchers highlighted was that the larger portion of the women in the 40 to 49 age group with early cancer were ethnic minorities.  Therefore, one researcher said, "if you exlude younger women from screening mammography, it could disproportionately affect minority women."

While each study's findings create more questions for debate, one expert who reviewed but was not involved in either study, Dr. Otis Brawley weighed in saying any research presented at medical meetings should be "viewed with a grain of salt," according to HealthDay News.  Brawley said that because the research is in such early stages, they have not been reviewed and debated heavily by other medical experts and should be considered as tentative research.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio