New guidelines for breast cancer screenings met with controversy

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – New guidelines released Tuesday by the American Cancer Society claim women should start getting mammograms later in life and less often.

The advice comes with two headlines: that most women should start annual screenings at age 45 instead of 40, and that women older than 55 can get a mammography every other year instead of annually.

Dr. Susan Schetter, division chief of breast imaging at Penn State Hershey Breast Center, has her doubts about the new guidelines.

“I would recommend age 40,” Schetter said in reference to when women should start getting mammograms. “We know we save the most women when we start at the age of 40. One of the things that I think we need to take into consideration is that 70-75 percent women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors.”

The new guidelines are seen as controversial, confusing, and even upsetting to breast cancer survivors.

“Mammography is the proven method of identifying cancer at the earliest stage when we can best save a life,” Schetter told ABC 27 News.

The American Cancer Society cited concerns about false positive tests, which are sometimes seen as stressful and painful, as a big factor in the new guidelines.

“In studies that have been done it does not seem to deter them from wanting to be screened,” Schetter said.

Leigh Hurst, founder of Feel Your Boobies, is a breast cancer survivor. She told ABC 27 News she’s alive today thanks to an early mammogram. Feel Your Boobies promotes early detection of breast cancer.

Hurst said she worries these guidelines will lead to women to put off going to the doctor and ultimately dying.

“I think when you do go to your annual exam, you should ask the doctor to do a breast exam for you,” Hurst suggested.

The American Cancer Society said everyone should have access to mammograms.

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