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Panel recommends breast cancer screening starting at age 40

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Brett Rowland

(The Center Square) – Women in the U.S. should get screened for breast cancer starting at age 40, 10 years earlier than previously recommended, according to a new recommendation from a government panel.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force posted a draft recommendation that all women get screened for breast cancer every other year starting at age 40. 

The American Cancer Society supported the decision.

"We applaud the return in USPSTF recommendations to begin screening in their 40s,” Dr. William Dahut, chief scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, said in a statement.

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American Cancer Society breast cancer guidelines, which are independent from government recommendations, call for women to have an opportunity to decide about screening at age 40 and undergo annual screening by 45.

The task force recommendations could result in 19 percent more lives being saved.

"New and more inclusive science about breast cancer in people younger than 50 has enabled us to expand our prior recommendation and encourage all women to get screened every other year starting at age 40," said Dr. Carol Mangione, the task force immediate past chair. "This new recommendation will help save lives and prevent more women from dying due to breast cancer."

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer. It also is the second most common cause of cancer death for women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.