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Making the Mammogram Decision
Durham, N.C. - After years of controversy, medical experts now agree that annual mammograms are beneficial for women over age 50, as a valuable tool in detecting breast cancer. The questions now facing women and their doctors are: at what age should yearly screening begin, and how often should it be performed?
Most physicians agree that annual mammograms are a good idea for women over age 50. The issue today is: How early should women begin having mammograms, and how often? Dr. Tracy Gaudet, a physician in the OB-GYN department and director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, says she generally follows the guidelines of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
"They basically recommend that there is evidence that there's benefit to starting screening at age 40. They say one to two years, because there's not enough evidence to actually clarify whether it should be annually or not."
Gaudet says for most women, the benefits of a yearly mammogram screening between ages 40 and 50 far outweigh the risks.
"The test is a good test. You're more likely to pick up a breast cancer with a mammogram than without, clearly. And in that age group, if you have breast cancer, it's more likely to be an aggressive form of breast cancer."
Gaudet says she counsels her patients that, unless other factors are involved, it's better to start screening early.
"My advice to patients is to begin screening at 40, and I err on the cautious side and say to screen every year."
|contact sources :||Tracy Gaudet , (919) 660-6827|
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