Women in their 40s May Benefit from Annual Mammograms

A new study finds that women in their 40s with dense breasts benefit from annual mammograms.



The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) ignited a firestorm of controversy in 2009 when the government agency recommended that most women between the ages of 50 and 74 should undergo screening mammograms every other year,instead of every year. Even more controversial was the USPSTF’s recommendation that most healthy women between the ages and 40 and 49 should no longer undergo routine screening mammograms. Numerous cancer advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society, subsequently recommended that the USPSTF’s revised guidelines for screening mammograms should, essentially, be ignored, and that women with an average risk of developing breast cancer should continue to undergo annual screening mammograms starting at age 40.

In 2010, following the USPSTF’s controversial recommendations, a significant drop in the number of annual screening mammograms performed on women in their 40s was observed, leading to concern among some breast cancer experts that many cases of breast cancer might go undiagnosed among 40 to 49 year-old women.

Now, a newly published study, which appears in the online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, provides important new data regarding the potential impact of switching from annual screening mammograms to every-other-year (biennial) mammograms.

In this very large study, researchers analyzed prospectively collected data from mammography facilities throughout the United States that participated in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. Data was prospectively collected on 11,474 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and 922,624 women without breast cancer.

The findings of this enormous public health study strongly suggest that the USPSTF’s recommendations that women between the ages of 50 and 74 undergo every-other-year mammograms may actually be reasonable and safe. When compared to women in this age range who underwent screening mammograms every year, the women who underwent biennial mammograms did not have a higher incidence of advanced-stage breast cancers. An additional important finding was that even women aged 50 or older with very dense breast tissue, or women above 50 who had taken hormone replacement therapy, appeared not to experience any harm by undergoing biennial mammograms instead of annual mammograms. As both of these factors increase a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, the finding of this study that women between 50 and 74 years of age can safely undergo screening mammograms every other year (instead of every year) is of particular significance.

In contrast to women between the ages of 50 and 74, this research study’s findings regarding women between the ages of 40 and 49 call into question the USPSTF’s recommendation that women in this age range need not undergo regular screening mammograms. Among the women in this study between the ages of 40 and 49, every-other-year screening mammograms (rather than every year) resulted in a significant increase in the incidence of more advanced-stage breast cancers. In fact, women in this age range, who often have very dense breast tissue, were 89 percent more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancers if they underwent every-other-year mammograms when compared to comparably aged women with dense breast tissue who underwent annual screening mammograms.

I consider this to be a very important clinical research study, and its findings may well lead to changes in the current recommendations regarding screening mammograms. At the same time, it will be important to follow the nearly one million women who participated in this public health study, to see if breast long-term cancer survival rates are impacted by the timing of screening mammograms (i.e., annual versus biennial mammograms).

It is critically important to avoid the multiple lifestyle and dietary factors known to increase the risk of breast cancer. For more research-based information on this important topic, please read the extended chapter on breast cancer in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

Join Dr. Wascher on Facebook

Additional Links for Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

Profile of Dr. Wascher by Oncology Times

Bio of Dr. Wascher at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Dr. Wascher Discusses Predictions of Decreased Cancer Risk on azfamily.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Environmental Risk Factors for Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer on talkabouthealth.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention Strategies on LIVESTRONG

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention on Newsmax

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer Risk & Cancer Prevention on The Doctors Radio Show

Dr. Wascher Discusses Lymphedema After Breast Surgery on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Chronic Pain After Mastectomy for Breast Cancer on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Cancer on cancersupportivecare.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Exercise in Cancer Prevention on Open Salon

Dr. Wascher Discusses Aspirin as a Potential Preventive Agent for Pancreatic Cancer on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Treatment of Stomach Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Management of Metastatic Cancer of the Liver on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on hopenavigators.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on interactmd.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Thyroid Cancer on health2fit.com


Links to Other Breaking Health News

Vitamin D May Improve Asthma Symptoms

Doctor Provides Patients with Own Feces for Fecal Transplants

Rising Arsenic Levels in Chicken

Dramatic Increase in Suicide Rate Among Middle Aged Americans Over the Past Decade

Woman with Transplanted Uterus Becomes Pregnant

Cutting Umbilical Cord Too Soon May Cause Anemia in Newborns

Recent Advances in Prosthetic Limbs to Help Boston Marathon Bombing Victims

Spiny New Bandage May Speed Healing of Skin Wounds

Study Confirms that Men Really Do Have Trouble Reading the Thoughts of Women

Deadly new Bird Flu Strain Cases Continue to Rise

Abdominal Fat Increases Kidney Disease Risk

Increasing Dietary Potassium & Decreasing Salt Intake Reduces Stroke Risk

A New Explanation for the Link Between Red Meat & Cardiovascular Disease

Deadly New Bird Flu Identified in China

Infection Risk: Keeping an Eye on Your Dentist

Couple Loses 500 Pounds in Two Years

Coffee May Reduce Crash Risk for Long-Distance Drivers

Tiny Implant Tells Your Smart Phone When You Are Having A Heart Attack

Transplanted Kidney Causes Death Due to Rabies

Eating While Distracted Increases Calorie Intake

Resistant Bacteria are on the Rise

High Levels of Stress Linked to an Increase in Heart Disease Risk

Small Snacks Cut Hunger as Well as Big Snacks

Poor Sleep May Increase the Risk of Heart Failure

Ancient Mummies Found to Have Heart Disease by CT Scan

Physically Fit Kids Do Better on Math & Reading Tests

How Melanoma Skin Cancer Evades the Immune System

Possible Link Between BPA and Asthma

Baby Boomers Appear Less Healthy Than Their Parents

The Biology of Love in the Brain

Millennials May be the Most Stressed-Out Generation

Even Modest Alcohol Intake Raises Cancer Risk

Why Do Boys Receive Lower Grades than Girls?

Negative Emotions and Feelings Can Damage Your Health

Canker Sore Drug Cures Obesity (At Least in Mice…)

How Technology is Changing the Practice of Medicine

New Salt Intake Guidelines for Children

High Levels of Distress in Childhood May Increase Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Quitting Tobacco by Age 40 Restores a Normal Lifespan in Smokers

Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall

Self-Help Books Improve Depression

Marines Try Mindfulness and Meditation to Reduce PTSD

Dying Nurse Volunteers Herself to Teach Nursing Students about the Dying

Regular Walks Cut Stroke Risk

Falling Asleep While Driving More Common than Previously Thought

Celebrity Health Fads Debunked

Obesity Among Young Children May Be Declining

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Satisfaction with Life May Actually Increase with Age

Brain Changes in the Elderly May Increase Susceptibility to Being Scammed


Dr. Wascher’s Home Page

According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.

Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 3.1 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


Bookmark and Share

Post to Twitter

Enter Google AdSense Code Here


Better Tag Cloud