Mammograms should not follow strict regimen for all women

Jul 27, 2011

Mammogram schedule may differ for women

Simply having the timing and frequency of mammograms based on a woman's age may not be the best plan, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Instead, women should have customized plans based on their individual needs.

A woman's age, family history of breast cancer, history of biopsy and breast density should be considered when making these decisions.

"It is appropriate for women when deciding how often to get a mammogram to make that decision based on how high their risk is," said study lead author Dr. John Schousboe, medical director of research at Park Nicollet Health Services in Minneapolis and adjunct professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota.

The American Cancer Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend a mammography schedule based on age, but differ on when they believe the screenings should begin. The study found that annual screenings may not be cost effective. However, if they catch breast cancer early and can help prevent life insurance claims, they may be worth it.

The study was based on a model of women with four risk factors and assumed they all started out healthy.  

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