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'Early detection is key': Panel now recommends breast cancer screenings at 40

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Posted at 7:46 AM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 09:37:13-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Breast Cancer screenings are now being recommended at age 40 instead of 50. On Tuesday, a panel of medical experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced the change.

Doctors and survivors WRTV talked said early detection is key.

“Early detention is great for the simple fact that it does save lives,” said Autumn Carter.

Carter is a breast cancer survivor pushing for the importance of early detection and advocacy, although that was not the case for her.

“Mine was not by choice, mine was more so the fact that I did go to the doctor, and my concerns were brushed under the rug and pointed in the direction as a fibroid,” Carter said.

Carter said initially she noticed changes to her body and then a lump on her breast.

She was diagnosed in 2019 at 30 years old with the cancer spreading throughout her body.

“They caught it at stage three and so you know, as much as I would like for it to be stage zero or stage one, it was in a much, much aggressive form," Carter said.

Doctors believed the single mom of a seven-year-old wouldn't live for more than two years.

“The number one thing for me was my daughter. My now 11-year-old daughter at the time she was seven,” said Carter. “They actually gave me two years to live, and I beat that prognosis.”

Although Carter’s case was rare, the rise in breast cancer rates in younger women is a big reason why the USPSTF, is now reversing course, recommending regular mammograms starting at 40 years old instead of 50.

WATCH NOW | Hear more from Autumn Carter

Full interview breast cancer awareness

“Breast cancer has a 99%, five-year survival rate, and 86%, when it's locally spread to sort of the lymph nodes,” said Dr. Jenny Yu, the Chief Health Officer for Healthline. “Picking up the early stages of breast cancer can really improve someone's overall quality of life and survival rate drastically.”

According to Med Star Health, 59% of women skip their annual mammogram, and women of color facing more barriers to getting them.

“This sort of step really is towards ensuring equity in terms of access for people who are potentially at the highest risk and patients across different diverse ethnic groups,” said Dr. Yu. “Having a kind of a broader recommendation just allows for, you know, coverage payment in system process to be in place, so that it allows for people to get the screening that they need."

These recommendations hope not only to serve as a call to action, but a reminder for women that you’re never too young to get screened, the importance of talking with your doctor about risk factors and advocating for yourself.

“I’m not a doctor, but I am a breast cancer survivor. And I can say that listening to your body and taking those concerns to your doctor can lead to a much greater rate of being diagnosed earlier and could save your life,” said Carter.

The updated recommendations do not apply to people with a personal or family history of breast cancer or those who may have a genetic marker or syndrome that may put them at a high-risk of breast cancer.