The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, known for overseeing and understanding preventative health care diagnostic testing, has issued a statement regarding new recommendations in mammography screening. Previously they recommended that mammogram screenings be performed every 1 to 2 years on women over the age of 40, to help prevent breast cancer via early diagnosis. As with other diagnostic tests involving low dose radiation, mammograms have their fair share of risk involved. The question has always been whether or not that risk out weighs the benefit. Prior to this month, that answer has been commonly believed to be no. Now, however, that answer has come under much scrutiny as new studies are surfacing in opposition to that understanding. What is now being stated by the U.S.P.S.T.F (that's just a long name) is that routine mammography for women between the ages of 40-49 can actually be more dangerous, due to a large number of misdiagnosed cases, causing unnecessary treatment for women who otherwise were healthy. If this were a case of "Take two and call me in the morning," that probably wouldn't be such a problem, but cancer treatment, painful and potentially deadly, is hardly a matter to be taken lightly.
Clinics around the nation now are having to do their own reviews of this information now and will be forced to re-educate their patient base. Ultimately it's still a matter of risk assessment and hopefully patients will choose to educate themselves as much as possible to be as informed about their decisions as they can be.