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New study says yearly mammograms may reduce rate of mastectomies

TAMPA - We know mammograms can detect breast cancer and save lives, but different groups have different recommendations about who should get one, and when.

Now there's yet another recommendation to add to the mix.

A new study is out of Europe finds yearly mammograms may reduce the rate of mastectomies.

The ritual of a yearly mammogram is one many women begin at the age of 40. Annual mammograms are a test the American Cancer Society recommends to screen for breast cancer.

The goal is to detect them before they reach one centimeter in size. Doctors say detecting breast cancer earlier means a better prognosis.

But controversial guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force say for women under 50, the decision to start regular screening mammography should be an individual one. And the National Cancer Institutes says every two years is okay.

Radiologist Dr. Todd Kumm disagrees.

"We still recommend women starting at the age of 40, that are of average risk, have mammograms every year," he said.

And now there's more evidence that for younger women there is a benefit: a new study looked at the records of almost 1,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer between the ages of 40 and 50.

They found women who had prior mammograms were less likely to need aggressive surgery.

Only 19 percent screened one year before diagnosis underwent a mastectomy, or complete removal of the breast.

Compared with 46 percent who didn't get the test.

But when it comes to younger women, denser breast tissue can make it harder to see or even feel lumps. Dr. Kumm believes annual screens make it easier for him to pick up subtle changes that might otherwise be missed.




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