Should Younger Women Get Mammograms?

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Women should start getting mammograms in their 40s rather than wait until they're 50, according to a new study from Harvard.

A few years ago, a government group recommended that women wait until they were 50 to start getting mammograms.

But Harvard researchers who studied breast cancer patients at Boston hospitals in the 1990s have found that half were under 50 and 70 percent had not gotten a mammogram.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women start getting mammograms at 40.

"Breast cancer is primarily a disease of older women, but younger women tend to have faster-growing cancer," said Dr. Barbara Monsees, a professor of women's health and radiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Monsees was not involved in the study.

"There are people who feel that screening doesn't reduce death rates, that it's all in treatment," Monsees said. "This study corroborates prior studies that screening mammograms save lives."

The Harvard study was published online in the journal Cancer.

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