The American College of Radiology (ACR) currently recommends annual mammography screening starting at age 40 for women at average risk for breast cancer. But updated guidelines from the ACR and Society of Breast Imaging suggest that those at higher risk should undergo a risk assessment 10 years earlier, reports Healio.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Because early detection would help decrease breast cancer mortality, the two organizations believe that all women, especially Black women and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, should be evaluated for breast cancer risk by age 30.
“The latest scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports a continued general recommendation of starting annual screening at age 40,” said Debra L. Monticciolo, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission. “It also supports augmented and earlier screening for many women. These updates will help save more lives.”
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Black women. What’s more, recent data from the organization show that African-American women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than non-Hispanic whites.
“The elevated risk among Black women in particular has been largely underappreciated,” Monticciolo told Healio. “The age of 30 is important because much of the supplemental screening should start at that age.”
Experts also recommended that digital mammography (with or without digital breast tomosynthesis) be performed annually beginning at age 30 for women with genetics-based elevated risk or a calculated lifetime risk of 20 percent or more.
But for women with a history of chest radiation therapy at a young age, these screenings should begin annually at age 25. In addition, women in these groups should begin annual breast MRI at age 25 to 30.
Guidelines were also updated for women with a history of breast cancer who have a higher risk of recurrence. An annual surveillance with breast MRI was suggested for those with a history of breast cancer and dense breast tissue as well as those diagnosed before age 50.
“We do not want women to wait for a later age or wait an extended time between screenings because the cancers do not wait,” Monticciolo concludes. “We truly hope to get the message out that mammography and MRI can really make a difference.”
Click here to learn how breast cancer survivors aren’t getting the recommended number of mammograms.