The Society of Breast Imaging and the Breast Imaging Commission of the American College of Radiology recommend that women at average risk of breast cancer begin screening with mammography starting at the age of 40. These recommendations were published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.
Mammograms (X-ray images of the breasts) are commonly used to screen women for breast cancer. The goal of screening mammography is to reduce breast cancer mortality by detecting breast cancer at an early stage.
The age at which mammographic screening should begin has recently been a subject of debate. The American Cancer Society continues to recommend that women at average risk of breast cancer begin mammographic screening at the age of 40.The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, however, recently recommended against routine mammographic screening of women in their 40s, noting that the decision to begin screening women in this age group “should be an individual one and take patient context into account, including the patient’s values regarding specific benefits and harms.”
Two other groups that have recently added their voices to the discussion are the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging. These groups continue to recommend that women at average risk of breast cancer begin annual mammographic screening at the age of 40. The groups also note that women at high risk of breast cancer, such as those with certain BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, should begin screening at an earlier age, and should be screened with breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to mammography.
In light of the recent debate concerning when to begin screening mammography, women are encouraged to talk with their physician about the screening approach that’s right for them.
 American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society responds to changes to USPSTF mammography guidelines. Available at: Accessed January 6, 2010.
 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Breast Cancer. Available at: Accessed January 6, 2010.
 Lee CH, Dershaw D, Kopans D et al. Breast cancer screening with imaging: recommendations from the Society of Breast Imaging and the ACR on the use of mammography, breast MRI, breast ultrasound, and other technologies for the detection of clinically occult breast cancer. Journal of the American College of Radiology. 2010;7:18-27.
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