Women prefer starting routine mammograms before age 50

May 12, 2011

A recent Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll indicates that the majority of women believe that screening mammograms should start at 40 years of age rather than at 50 years as recommended in 2009 by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. The poll also found that 66% of women in their 40s were unaware of the Task Force?s recommendations. The poll was conducted from April 18 to 20.

A recent Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll indicates that the majority of women believe that screening mammograms should start at 40 years of age rather than at 50 years as recommended in 2009 by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. The poll also found that 66% of women in their 40s were unaware of the Task Force’s recommendations. The poll was conducted from April 18 to 20.

Of the 1,083 US women over 18 years of age surveyed, 57% said mammograms should start at age 40; 12% said 50 years was the right age to start screening. Among women in their 40s who hadn’t heard about the new recommendations, 72% disagreed with the recommendations once they were told about them.

Forty-five percent of women surveyed said the Task Force moved the mammography starting age from 40 years-the age still recommended by the American Cancer Society-to 50 years to reduce healthcare costs and to avoid administering unnecessary tests; 30% attributed the recommendation to excessive false-positive results with earlier testing, the reason cited by the Task Force.

The new recommendations call for routine mammograms every 2 years in women between 50 and 74 years of age and advise women in their 40s to discuss their breast cancer risk factors with their physician and make a personal decision about whether to have a mammogram. The poll found that 77% of women in their 40s have already had at least 1 mammogram and 64% undergo screening annually.