In Brief

Women in Their 40s Still Getting Mammograms

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Women in their 40s continue to undergo screening for breast cancer despite recent guidelines that recommended against routine screening for this age group, according to a new study.

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new breast cancer screening guidelines that recommended women ages 50 to 74 have a mammogram every other year, but that women younger than 50 speak with their doctors to determine if screening is right for them.

The new study found no change in the percentage of women undergoing breast cancer screening before and after the recommendations.

In 2011, 47.5 percent of U.S. women ages 40 to 49 said they received a mammogram in the past year, compared to 46.1 percent in 2008. 

The findings suggest that the controversy surrounding the new guidelines may have had an impact on their adoption, the researchers said. They also suggest that it's hard to "undo" screening recommendations, a phenomenon also seen in prostate cancer screening.

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Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.