Last week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)—a panel of experts that issues guidelines about preventative care—posted a draft recommendation that all women start bi-annual (every other year) routine breast cancer screening at 40 years old. This is a ten-year jump from the task force’s previous recommendation of starting breast screening at 50.
“I think it’s a small step in the right direction after a huge step in the WRONG direction,” says Dr. Monique Gary, DO, MSc, FACS—Medical Director at Grand View Health/ Penn Cancer Network. “When their last recommendations were released in 2016, it did more harm than good in a few ways. Besides recommending against self-breast exams, it spurred all these studies… spending valuable resources to prove harm of screening guidelines for Black women. In my opinion, it was tragic, when it is quite evident that delays in screening are one of the many forces at play in our presentation of more advanced disease.“
Many responses to this recent recommendation have overlooked a critical detail—it only applies to all people assigned female at birth who are at average risk for breast cancer. This guidance does NOT apply to women with dense breasts, Black women, or women with...