Smart Woman: Breast Cancer Exams

How often women should be screened for breast cancer has been a big debate in recent years. Now a new study is suggesting some older women can safely be screened for breast cancer less often.

For women who were above the age of 50 and 74 having mammograms done every other year did not appear to expose women for the risk of later diagnosis for breast cancer.

Researchers also found mammograms every two years in older women could lower their risk of false positive results, which can trigger unnecessary biopsies. The report did show that women in their 40s with extremely dense breasts should consider annual screening to reduce their chances of later stage breast cancers, but the report did not take into account other risk factors.

"For women with dense breasts and especially women with extensive risk in their background, some of these analysis really don't apply well," says Dr. Freya Schnabel.

There are more than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer every year. The American Cancer Society says it's not changing its screening guidelines based on this study.

Dr. Otis Brawley with The American Cancer Society says they are going to continue recommending mammography on an annual basis beginning at the age of 40 all the way through age 75.

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