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How often should women get mammograms?

6:07 PM, Oct 4, 2011   |    comments
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By Kay Quinn Healthbeat Reporter

St. Louis (KSDK) - Mammograms are the gold standard for detecting breast cancer in its earliest stage.

But should you get one every year, or every two years? That's the question in tonight's eight ways to detect cancer segment.

"We're trying to find cancers when they're small when they're early before they're even palpable or before they can be felt," said Dr. Catherine Appleton with the Siteman Cancer Center.

Most doctors believe that annual X-ray images of the breast lower deaths from breast cancer by 20 percent, but in 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that women with no risk factors be screened every two years. Dr. Appleton says the vast majority of doctors, and the American Cancer Society do not follow that advice.

"We continue to recommend that women get a mammogram once a year and that's based on scientific evidence to support that annual mammogram saves lives," said Dr. Appleton.

The belief is that screening women age 40 up will find faster growing cancers that might spread to other parts of the body.

"And that can be the difference between survival and not, in women with breast cancer," said Dr. Appleton.


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