The new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is to delay screening mammography for breast cancer from 40 to 50 years of age.
But, the examination of the available data shows that screening mammography among women between 39 and 49 years of age results in a 15 percent reduction in the risk of death from breast cancer.
It is clear that screening mammography offers an identifiable survival benefit to women in this age group.
Although false positives are a significant problem, only five biopsies are required for every case of cancer found.
But other data makes us realize that while screening women in their forties might be the right choice from the perspective of an individual woman, it is probably the wrong choice from the perspective of our health care system overall.
It turns out that adherence to the current guidelines from the American Cancer Society (which include screening women in their forties) costs more than $680,000 for every year of life saved. This is more than 10 times the amount that is thought to be affordable within the health care budget of wealthy countries like our own.
Source: Children’s Hospital Boston