Harvard Report: Early Detection Key, Mammograms

Harvard Report: Early Detection Key, Mammograms

A new report released this week says more women should get mammograms earlier in their lives than previously thought. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School say they found more women over fifty who died of breast cancer had never had mammograms.
A new report released this week says more women should get mammograms earlier in their lives than previously thought.

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School say they found more women over fifty who died of breast cancer had never had mammograms.

In that report, the women they studied had been diagnosed with breast cancer before they had turned fifty.

It's studies like these that have some medical experts questioning current mammogram standards.

The current standards, from the National Cancer Institute, suggests that all women forty and over get a mammogram once every one-to-two years.

Standards echoed by the American Cancer Society.

But the findings in the Harvard report, published Monday in the journal 'Cancer,' says that might be too late.

"It's indicated for women aged eighteen to seventy three, but really all women in their twenties and thirties. You know, obviously if you have a family history or you have dense breasts, whether it's identified by ultrasound or some other risk factor, it's especially important. But unfortunately, twenty percent of women who have breast cancer have no risk factors,” says Dr. Steven Quay, M.D.

A sentiment supported by several employees on board the Francine's Friends Mobile Mammography bus.

I spoke to several nurses off camera who say they're seeing women younger and younger, some in their twenties and thirties, test positive for breast cancer.

And while the report says early detection could help save lives, other groups are questioning the claim.

The National Cancer Institute’s web site says-

"Finding cancer early does not always reduce a woman's chance of dying from breast cancer."

And a report from 2009 from the United States Preventative Services Task Force says women should wait until fifty years of age before getting regular mammograms.

But proponents for early detection say early screenings have shown to reduce the death rate.

And of course, you should consult with your doctor for advice on early screenings, and each case is different for every woman.

We have some links to mammogram services on our web site—




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