Finding breast cancer and finding it early is Dr. Jeff Hawley’s mission.
Hawley, who is a radiologist at the Ohio State University, has seen women with breast cancer as young as 22-years-old.
New mammography guidelines are out from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, telling women in their 40s there’s no rush to get a mammogram.
“They gave the 40 to 49 a recommendation, which unfortunately under the current health care scheme, insurers may not cover that,” said Hawley.
That could keep some women from getting a mammogram, and others from finding breast cancer until it’s grown.
The Preventative Services Task Force came out with similar guidelines in 2009, and received heavy criticism for it.
This time they’re urging women to talk to their doctors but still not recommending mammograms until 50-years-old; siting research that points to increase false positives.
“It’s the only test that we have that’s proven to reduce mortality from breast cancer and we know that uptick starts at age 40, not at age 50,” said Hawley.
It is true that the majority of breast cancer patients are diagnosed after the age of 50, but women diagnosed in their 20s, 30s, or 40s often face more aggressive forms of breast cancer.
Hawley said it could be dangerous if a woman waits to be tested.
“It makes a significant difference when 40 percent of the life years that women lose to breast cancer are women who are diagnosed in their 40s,” said Hawley.