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October 5, 2023

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Mammograms Now Recommended Beginning at Age 40

Breast Surgeon Emphasizes that Early Detection Is Key

New guidelines earlier this year from the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) have lowered the age at which women should begin having regular mammograms from age 50 to 40.

“The new guidelines recommend that women with an average risk of developing breast cancer begin having mammograms at age 40,” said Honnie Bermas, M.D. a Breast Surgeon with Fox Valley Surgical Specialists, a partner of ThedaCare Cancer Care.“Many breast cancer experts, including ThedaCare’s oncology team, support women having an annual mammogram with the hope that early detection will reduce the number of breast cancer cases discovered at a later stage.”

The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of medical experts working to improve public health by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications. Its recommendations frequently influence insurance plan coverage and guidelines from providers.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and ThedaCare along with the ACS and BCRF strongly encourages women to schedule regular mammograms. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

Dr. Bermas noted that a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer changes as she ages. Other risk factors include family history, genetics, race, weight, pregnancy history and lifestyle choices.

She recommends women discuss their breast cancer risk with their primary care provider or gynecologist as early as age 25.

“It’s important to discuss family history, which is a major factor in developing breast cancer, and determine whether the patient is at a high risk and, if so, what the proper screening program should be for that patient,” she said.

Dr. Bermas noted most insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid cover the cost of one screening mammogram annually beginning now at age 40.

On average, American women have a 13% chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the ACS. Those odds change depending upon age, family history, race and ethnicity. Black women and Ashkenazi Jews have a higher incidence of breast cancer.

For women with dense breast tissue, newer 3D mammography screening is recommended, as dense breast tissue can make it more difficult to detect breast cancer. Most Mammography Centers, including all ThedaCare locations, are now using 3D Mammography. In March of this year, a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) rule change requires health care facilities to notify patients if they have dense breast tissue. It’s estimated half of all women have dense breast tissue.

Learn more about recommended screenings.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 650,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 providers and team members. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care. For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.

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