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All women should have access to breast cancer testing starting at age 40, according to a new policy statement from the American Medical Association. The recommendation contradicts recent guidance from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
During its annual meeting, board members voted to recommend that all women beginning at age 40 should be given access to lab tests to check for breast cancer. The members did, however, acknowledge that screening might not be appropriate for everyone, and women should work with their doctor to understand if testing is necessary.
"Early detection of breast cancer increases the odds of a patient's survival, and mammography screenings are an important tool in discovering this cancer," said Dr. Patrice Harris, AMA board member. "All patients are different and have varying degrees of cancer risk, and patients should regularly talk with their doctors."
The recommendation draws a sharp contrast between published guidance from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which stated in 2009 that women under age 50 should not be tested for breast cancer unless they have specific risk factors for the condition.
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