Fast Five Quiz: Breast Cancer Presentation and Diagnosis

Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH


July 13, 2021

Most guidelines recommend regular breast cancer screening with mammography for women aged 50-74 years with average risk. Organizations such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer, the US Preventive Services Task Force, and the American Cancer Society agree that the benefits of screening outweigh the harms in this population, although there is some variation across guidelines about whether screening should be performed annually or once every 2 years.

Guidelines do not recommend routine breast cancer screening with mammography in women aged 39 years or younger, unless they are at increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Breast cancer screening with mammography for women aged 40-49 years with average risk is a controversial topic. Most guidelines mention that the decision to screen is an individual one in this population, and that the risks and benefits should be considered, along with the woman's preferences. But some point out that the potential harms of screening outweigh the potential benefits, while others recommend screening with mammography once a year.

Likewise, guidelines vary in terms of their mammography screening recommendations for women aged 75 years or older with average risk. The evidence is insufficient to assess the benefits and harms of screening mammography in this age group, so the guidelines either decline to make recommendations or use a life expectancy cutoff; women can continue screening with mammography if they are of good health overall and have a life expectancy of 10 years or more, but should discontinue if the life expectancy is 10 years or less.

Learn more about the early detection of breast cancer through screening.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: