One out of every eight women (1/8) will develop breast cancer during their life and approximately 40,000 women die of breast cancer annually. Diagnosing breast cancer early can lead to more cures and save lives. Mammography is an excellent screening method to help diagnose early breast cancer. But because it is a screening method it is fraught with numerous false positive tests that can lead to unnecessary biopsies with significant cost. This begs the question as to what age mammograms become most cost effective as well as how often they should be done. The USPSTF reviewed numerous published studies and based their recommendations (screening every other year from ages 50-74) on the age prevalence of breast cancer, the number of screenings necessary to diagnose cancer in each age group, and the percentage of false positive tests.
Robert Milstein, M.D.
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