What age should women find out about their breast density and screening for breast cancer?

Breast cancer kills more women between the ages 35-54 than automobile accidents, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, murder, alcoholism, drug overdose or any other cause.  Almost 8,000 women in this age group die each year in the United States alone.  There has been a concerted effort to convince women and their physicians that it is unnecessary to screen for breast cancer during three quarters of these two decades.  The United States Preventative Services Task Force (U.S.P.S.T.F.) has decided that it is not worth the effort or expense to screen women before the age of 50. Part of that reasoning was that, since most young women have dense breasts, many cancers would be missed by screening mammography anyway.

My own feeling is that women with dense breasts, who have a family history of premenopausal breast cancer in a close relative should begin automated whole breast ultrasound screening or handheld screening ultrasound at the age of 35 or at an age of 5-years less than the age of the youngest close relative who developed breast cancer, whichever is younger.  The women who are 40 years old or older and have dense breasts should have breast ultrasound along with an annual mammogram.  Annual mammography is still recommended by the American Cancer Society on an annual basis for women who are at least 40 years old.  For women who are particularly concerned about breast cancer they should begin ultrasound screening at 35.

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