Deanna’s Discoveries: Should you get mammograms in your 40s? That depends on whom you ask!

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As things slowly return to normal after a full year of pandemic panic, women are finally making preventative screenings a priority and scheduling their annual mammograms.

But for one group of women, the question of whether they should be screened looms large. That group is women between the ages of 40 and 49. The recommendations are all over the map. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has posted the screening guidelines from seven different organizations and they vary widely.

For example, the American College of Radiology says women should start annual screenings at age 40. The American Cancer Society says at age 45, but women should be given the choice to start screening earlier, but the American College of Physicians says the potential harm outweighs the benefits for women 40 to 49. The group points to the fact that only one in 68 women in that age group is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Younger women have dense breasts, making it hard to see breast tissue, sometimes leading to false positives and unnecessary biopsies.

While your radiation exposure is low during a mammogram, they don’t believe it’s worth the risk to young women.

Well, tell that to young women diagnosed with breast cancer. Rachel Studley was just 42 when she was diagnosed.

Dewberry: "When did you start getting mammograms?"

Studley: "At 40."

Dewberry: "Why did you make that decision?"

Studley: "Peace of mind. I wanted to know. Especially because I had friends that had already gone through it and they were younger than me, most of them."

Dewberry: "Did you ever say ‘The recommendations are over the place about whether I should start this young?’ Did you ever debate that, or did you say ‘This is what I’m going to do?’"

Studley: "No, I just wanted to do it. And talking to my doctors about it they said do it."

That’s key. Screening in your 40s is a personal decision you need to make after consulting your doctor.

As for Studley, she finished treatment in October and this weekend she and more than 30 co-workers are participating in the Breast Cancer Coalition’ of Rochester’s pink ribbon walk and run that takes place Friday through Sunday.

This year the event will be virtual. You can register by visiting the coalition’s website.