Two cancer agencies offer new mammography guidelines
From Correspondent Karen Maginnis
ATLANTA (CNN) -- The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society have new mammography guidelines, that, while not identical, should help women and doctors decide when to start regular mammograms.
A mammogram is a special kind of X-ray in which the breast is compressed between two flat plates. Each breast is X-rayed twice. It is relatively painless, though some women find it to be uncomfortable.
Mammograms can often detect tumors too small to feel, but may be less accurate in younger women because their breast tissue is denser.
The new guidelines from the government-run National Cancer Institute are for women ages 40-49 to have mammograms every one to two years.
The NCI recommends high-risk women consider starting even earlier. Those considered to be at high risk include women
who have had breast cancer before, or have close relatives who have had the disease.
Also considered at high risk are women with very lumpy or dense breasts and those who've had their first pregnancy after age 30.
The American Cancer Society's new guidelines also recommend women begin getting mammograms at age 40. But its recommendation differs in suggesting that women get an exam every year.
More recent studies suggest mammograms lower the death rate in younger women by 18 percent.
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