Older Women Don’t Need Mammograms Every Year

Women are still getting yearly mammograms, despite solid evidence that they're not as necessary as we once thought.

Women are still getting yearly mammograms, despite solid evidence that they’re not as necessary as we once thought.

Three years ago, a federally appointed panel of experts said that most women don’t need to get yearly mammograms. Despite this, a new study has showed that older women have all but ignored this advice. In fact, the numbers of older women getting yearly mammograms have jumped after this announcement. Among women ages 50-74, the rates jumped from 57.2 in 2008 to 59.1 in 2011. Though the panel insists it’s findings were solid, women seem unconvinced.

Don’t make a boob of yourself

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force was assembled in 2009, and was composed of government appointed prominent medical experts. The panel issued new guidelines about mammograms, saying that women under 50 don’t need annual mammograms, and that women aged 50-74 could get screened every two years. This was different than what women had been told for years, with the previous standard being a mammogram every year. The panel hoped to reduce harm and expense that comes from unnecessary testing, but not everyone agreed with their findings. The American Cancer Society stuck to it’s guns and stressed that they believe women should get screen annually.

Despite it’s best intentions, the panels findings did little to diminish the number of annual mammogram exams. Experts believe the conflicting message from the task force and the American Cancer Society played a large part in having the amount of annual mammogram exams stay about the same. Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that mammogram rates increased slightly from 51.9 percent in 2008 to 53.6 percent in 2011.

 The task force is set to reevaluate its findings in 2014, but until then, it seems as if annual mammogram exams aren’t going anywhere.

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