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  • Writer's pictureLeanna Coy, FNP-C

Update to Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

Woman receiving a mammogram with a medical tech helping her

The United States Preventative Task Force (USPSTF) released new guidelines for the screening of breast cancer in women. Last updated in 2016, the USPSTF guidelines previously recommended women begin screening for breast cancer with a mammogram every two years starting at age 50. The updated guidelines recommend women and those identified as female at birth start screening at age 40 and continue every two years until age 74.

This new recommendation aligns with the long-standing guidance of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which recommends screening starting at age 40 and repeated every one to two years based on shared decision-making between a patient and their healthcare provider of the risks and benefits of screening with a mammogram annually versus biannually. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the USPSTF change is to reflect the higher incidence of breast cancer seen in black women in their 30s and 40s. 

Breast cancer occurs when the cells in a person’s breast tissue begin to change and divide uncontrollably. When this happens, a lump or tumor will typically form. A mammogram is a series of x-rays of the breast tissue that looks for these early signs of breast cancer. Routine mammograms can detect breast cancer up to three years before a lump is felt. Routine mammograms used to screen for breast cancer are recommended to detect any potential cancer early. Early detection of cancer is vital because breast cancer is most easily treated when the tumor is small. 

An estimated 287,850 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022. Approximately 43,250 women died from the disease, with 530 breast cancer-related deaths occurring in men. Approximately 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for Black and Hispanic women and the second leading cause of cancer death in Native American and White women.

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