Mammography screening recommendations should be based on risk, rather than age, according to the results of a new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers conducting a modeling study concluded that women with low breast density and few or no risk factors only need mammography screening every three years. High-risk women with dense breasts should receive annual screening.
Current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and American Cancer Society guidelines recommend biennial screening for average-risk women aged 50–74 years and 55 years and older, respectively.
The researchers noted that key to their recommendations is ensuring that women know their breast density. To date, 27 states have a breast density notification law, and federal legislation was reintroduced in 2015. Despite this, current estimates suggest that 95% of women do not know their breast density and therefore one of their risk factors for developing breast cancer.
Additionally, the researchers noted that increased screening raises the chance of false positives, and that women have a different tolerance of false alarms, so the decision to have more frequent screening remains personal.
The researchers expect that their findings will be considered when mammography screening guidelines are revised.