A recent recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which
challenges the value of mammograms for women in their 40s, has garnered
a lot of attention. The task force emphasizes that routine screening before
age 50 increases the risk of a false positive result, which could lead
to unnecessary and often costly procedures and treatment.
However, in fall 2015, the American Cancer Society (ACS) revised its recommendations
to state that women aged 45-54 who are at average risk should undergo
yearly mammograms, and that women age 55 and older should undergo mammograms
every two years. The ACS says women 40-44 should have the option to start
annual mammograms if they chose to do so.
No wonder women are confused.
Delaying routine screening mammograms until age 50 potentially puts women
at risk for late stage detection of breast cancer that would otherwise
be discovered early with annual mammograms beginning at age 40.
Mammography is still the only proven means for detecting breast cancer
early, when it’s most treatable.
Mammography technology has improved vastly in recent years. In fact, several
studies have shown that the latest advancement, digital breast tomosynthesis
(3D mammography), improves cancer detection rate by 40 percent or more,
and decreases recall rates by 30 percent or more compared with conventional
While many breast care centers only offer 3D mammography to women with
dense breast tissue, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC) is
the only breast center in the region to offer digital 3D mammography to
all patients who visit the Pomona, Chino Hills and Claremont locations.
The Hospital has also invested in a new technology that decreases the
amount of radiation during a 3D mammogram.
PVHMC recommends starting annual screening mammograms beginning at age
40. However, each patient is different and ultimately, the decision on
when to begin screening mammograms is between the individual patient and
To schedule a 3D mammography appointment, call PVHMC’s breast health
center at (909) 469-9395.
Dr. Paul Reisch is Medical Director of the Breast Health Center at Pomona
Valley Hospital Medical Center.