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Poll Shows Women Still Want Mammograms at 40

admin - May 6, 2011



Despite the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation in November 2009, that pushed the age of a women’s first mammogram from age 40 to age 50, women are choosing to get screened at 40. And, these women say, it is the appropriate age.

A recent Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll surveyed 1,083 U.S. women over 18 about mammograms and found that:

  • 57% of the women overall believe mammograms should start at age 40
  • 72% of the women who were in their 40s believed mammograms should start at age 40
  • 12% of the women overall agreed with the U.S. task force’s age 50 recommendation
  • 66% of the women in the 40s had not heard of the USPSTF’s recommendations
  • 77% of the women in their 40s have had at least one mammogram
  • 64% of the women in their 40s get a mammogram annually

 Other interesting findings in this survey:

  • 45% of the women surveyed believed that the task force’s recommendation was in an effort to reduce health care costs
  • 30% of the women surveyed believed that the task force’s recommendation was due to the amount of false positives
  • 11% of the women surveyed overall believed mammograms should start in their 20s
  • 29% of the women surveyed overall believed mammograms should start in their 30s

Comments from Harris Poll and Task Force Representatives

HealthDay also wrote an article that follows up this data citing a spokesperson for the Harris Poll, which may explain the findings:

“Breast cancer is something women are taught to look for at an early age through monthly self-exams, and the magic age of 40 had been when the first mammogram was supposed to happen,” said Regina A. Corso, senior vice president of public relations and youth research for the Harris Poll. “That obviously goes against recommendations that have recently come out, and which almost half of women [polled] believe are there because these experts are mainly interested in saving money by reducing health-care costs.”

However, also mentioned in the article were comments by Dr. Diana Petitti, former vice chair of the USPSTF and a professor of biomedical informatics at Arizona State University, who said that the USPSTF never recommended that “women shouldn’t get mammograms” but rather “women under 50 should decide whether or not to start having mammograms after having discussions with their physicians about their specific risk factors.”

Furthermore, Pettiti added that the task force’s recommendation did not have anything to do with health care costs the article states.

Also noted in this HealthDay piece was that The American Cancer Society has not changed their recommendation that annual mammograms for women should start at age 40.

What do you think?: Was the task force’s recommendation an effort to reduce health care costs?




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