Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Do you need to get a mammogram? The debate continues...

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If you were unsure before whether you needed a yearly mammogram or not, a recent recommendation by the American College of Physicians just may have made the issue a little murkier. The physicians group recently announced their new guidelines that recommend yearly mammograms for women 50 and over, but not necessarily for younger women. Women age 40 to 49, says the group, should discuss their own personal risk of developing the disease with their doctor every 1 to 2 years, and decide for themselves whether to get the screening.

The group maintains that while mammograms have been proven to prevent breast cancer deaths in women over 50, it hasn't shown as much success with women in younger age groups. They say younger women should consider the risks of false positives, false reassurance, and radiation exposure. The group isn't saying women under 50 shouldn't get mammograms, only that they should consider whether the benefit outweighs the potential risk.

The American Cancer Society disagrees, calling the recommendation a "step backwards," and saying that current recommendations were developed with years of research in mind. With the most current guidelines being challenged, I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear on this topic.

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