In a major shift following years of mounting evidence that women may be receiving too many mammograms, the American Cancer Society on Tuesday released new guidelines recommending that women start getting the tests later, at age 45, and only every other year.
The previous guidelines, which have been in place for decades, recommended that women begin the screenings at 40 and return annually. The organization also said women should opt out of routine breast examinations, where doctors check for abnormal lumps.
The significant changes are based on studies showing that overtesting can lead to false positives, sometimes leading women to undergo unnecessary tests, such as biopsies.
“You see this moving from a one-size-fits-all approach to something that’s more personalized and more individualized, which is where medicine is going,” said Dr. Kevin Oeffinger of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Cancer, one of the physicians charged with creating the new guidelines.