Previously, it was recommended that women begin having annual mammograms when they reached 40 years of age. However, the American Cancer Society now recommends that the starting age for receiving annual mammograms should be 45 and that once a woman reaches 54, she should switch to having the screening done on a biennial basis.
One reason for the change is that it is more difficult to get accurate test results for women who are still in their early forties. This is because these younger women often have breasts that are denser, making cancer detection more difficult. As a result, a woman in her early forties may be more apt to receive a false positive result, which could lead to treatment. Treatments for breast cancer include mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy, none of which should be administered unless necessary.
So it appears that both doctors and patients have some serious decisions to make. Of course, it is extremely important for women to have mammograms in order to detect the presence of breast cancer. However, unnecessary treatment could have an adverse effect on a woman's health. Ultimately, it is up to each woman to decide how often she has a mammogram. That decision must be well-informed, and it is up to the medical professionals who perform the mammograms to give their patients proper assessments.
Further, when a woman undergoes an examination for breast cancer, the attending doctor must exercise a duty of care in making a diagnosis. Failure to diagnosis test results correctly could result in a woman not getting the attention she needs to combat the cancer. On the other hand, a diagnostic error could also lead a woman to undergo unnecessary, expensive and even dangerous treatment.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to a misdiagnosis of breast cancer, you may want to file a medical malpractice suit against the responsible party or parties. A Montana medical malpractice attorney could go over your case and offer advice and guidance on how to proceed.
Source: Care2, "American Cancer Society Recommends Reduced Mammogram Schedule," Cody Fenwick, Oct. 23, 2015