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New study recommends frequent breast cancer testing

Category: Breast

Regular breast cancer testing starting at age 40 can save millions of lives compared to other more conservative testing guidelines, according to a new study from University of Colorado researchers.

The findings contradict recently released recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force. In 2009 the group said that women should start receiving mammograms every other year starting at age 50. However, the current study found that this could result in many delayed diagnoses, which may cost many women their lives.

For the study, researchers developed several computer simulations to test the effect of various breast cancer testing approaches. They found that yearly testing starting at age 40 resulted in 71 percent fewer deaths than biennial testing starting at age 50.

"Task force guidelines have created confusion among women, leading some to forego mammography altogether," said Mark Helvie, who headed the research. "Mammography is one of the few screening tools that has been proven to save lives and our analysis shows that for maximum survival, annual screening beginning at 40 is best."

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