Conflicting news reports. Misinformed doctors and bureaucrats. Worries about COVID-19. General apathy. Screening mammogram rates continue to experience a downward trend, and that’s not a good thing.
There had been a decline in annual mammographic screening since 2004, but the trend accelerated after 2016 and especially slowed during the pandemic. According to a new study, published in August 2022, screening mammogram volumes today are at only 85.3% of pre-COVID-19 levels.
What’s more, only about half of all women are getting screened annually. According to WebMD, 47% of women aged 40-49 had an annual mammogram. For women aged 50 to 64 and 65 and older, the figures were 54% and 45%, respectively. Researchers at MIT put the figure even lower, citing that only about 35% of women have an annual mammogram from age 40 onward.
Here’s why this is a problem: Missing regular mammograms increases your risk of death from breast cancer, according to a large study of over 500,000 women funded by the American Cancer Society and published earlier this year in Radiology. The study concludes that the chances of dying from breast cancer within 10 years are 50% lower in women who are screened annually versus those who are not.
Ironically, the USPSTF still recommends biennial screening (once every two years) for women 50-74 years of age. Following these “recommendations” simply means that when cancer is found, it will be at a later stage and result in significantly lower survival rates.
It’s time to stop this ridiculous loop of misinformation. Start annual screenings at age 40 and never stop. And if you haven’t had a mammogram since the start of the pandemic, schedule your appointment right away. Spread the word, and let’s not lose all the progress made in the fight against breast cancer.