For years, annual breast cancer screening has been standard for women starting at age 40. Now, a government task force made up of primary care doctors is saying most women can wait until they’re 50 to start regular screenings and, even then, they only need to do it every two years. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force released their new recommendations Monday, adding that doctors should no longer instruct women on how to do breast self-exams because these personal inspections have not been linked to any mortality benefit. Not surprisingly, the new guidelines have been the subject of intense discussions among women, physicians and advocacy groups. This issue is of particular concern to residents of the Pacific Northwest, where breast cancer rates are the highest in the country.
The current discussion is somewhat remeniscent of one set off earlier this year when a study of risks and benefits of prostate cancer screenings came out, showing that routine screening often leads to unnecessary treatment.
How old were you when your doctor first talked to you about screening for breast or prostate cancer? What’s your personal experience with the risks and benefits of screening? Did screening help you catch cancer in the early stages? Have you ever had a false positive? What happened?