NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For the first time in 12 years, the American Cancer Society is changing its breast cancer screening recommendations.
But what was intended to clear up questions about when women should get mammograms, has actually caused more confusion.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, it’s a big change from the cancer society because it’s now recommending mammograms start later than previously recommended, which will mean fewer of them for many women — and some doctors don’t like it.
“It definitely is confusing,” said one woman.
“We should be encouraging people to do these procedures, instead of discouraging them to do them,” said Hannah Bernstein.
Instead of starting at age 40, the new American Cancer Society guidelines say age 45 is best for beginning annual mammograms for women with an average risk for breast cancer.
Then, every two years starting at age 55.
Part of the reason is to cut down on the harm of mammograms, leading to over-diagnosis and unnecessary surgeries, Carlin reported.
“Between 40 and 44, breast cancer is less common,” said Dr. Kevin Oeffinger, who chaired the guidelines panel. “There is still the risk of a false positive and so we thought that that needs to be an informed, shared decision between a woman and her health care provider.”
The amended guidelines and the confusion comes during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a main area of concern is how will this affect medical insurance, Carlin reported.
“Insurance companies could look at the American Cancer Society guidelines…and they could say this is the recommended age and we won’t pay for anything,” said Dr. Marleen Meyers.
“Cause they’re trying to save the money for the insurance. It’s way too late. That’s not gonna work,” said one woman.
“I think I would still go at 40, that’s always what I’ve been told,” said another woman.
The new guidelines are not recommendations for women who are at high risk for breast cancer. So make sure to discuss all screening and treatment options with your doctor.