individual women of various ages, races

Women should undergo breast cancer screenings every other year starting at age 40, a panel of US experts said, 10 years earlier than the group previously recommended. The draft recommendations, which were issued Tuesday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, state that women between ages 40 and 74 should have screenings every two years.

Breast cancer is among the most common and deadly cancers for women in the US. Prior guidance from the US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of primary care experts, advised women to get biennial screenings for breast cancer by age 50. The old guidance suggested women in their 40s, especially those with a family history of breast cancer, discuss screening with their doctors on a case-by-case basis.

Breast cancer rates are rising among women in their 40s, with new diagnoses increasing about 2% per year on average from 2015 to 2019, according to the National Cancer Institute. Earlier screening, usually with mammography, is hoped to spot cancers in their most treatable stages, before they’ve spread widely in the body. Some doctors suggested that the expert panel’s recommendations should be even more aggressive.

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