While health organizations don’t recommend mammograms for women until the age of 45, doctors are still recommending between 40-44
A paper published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine surveyed 871 primary care physicians and gynecologists between May and September 2016. Of those physicians surveyed, 81% stated that they recommended breast cancer screenings for women 40 to 44.
“Despite changes to guidelines, doctors are continuing to recommend routine mammograms to both younger and older women,” said Dr. Archana Radhakrishnan, a researcher at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore and lead author of the new paper, according to CNN. “The recommendations varied depending on physician specialty; gynecologists were the most likely to recommend screening.”
The survey results are noteworthy because many health organizations, like the American Cancer Society, issue recommendations that, as the results show, are not always followed.
Organizations like the American Cancer Society, among others, cite both getting older and being a woman as two of the most significant risk factors for breast cancer. Given these risk factors, most organizations encourage yearly screenings starting between the ages of 45-50. They also consider the unnecessary stress that a false-positive diagnosis can infringe on an individual’s life.
The editorial that accompanied the paper’s results further cited cost, unnecessary testing and incomplete prepping as additional drawbacks to early testing.
“In a national survey, less than 50% of American women reported that their physician discussed the pros and cons of mammography,” states the editorial.
While doctors may be taking a ‘something is better than nothing’ approach when recommending testing, the paper suggests that following guidelines may actually save both doctor and patient a load of stress.