The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force lowered the age for women to start screening to catch breast cancer earlier.
This comes as the rate of cases under 50 is increasing by about 2% a year.
The new guideline was put out as a draft, with a public input period that ended on June 5. The final approval should be out soon.
One woman in Southwest Florida believes getting a mammogram in her 40s may have saved her life.
Between regular exercise and eating well, 44-year-old Lauren Mammone considered herself in good health, but something was developing inside her that she never would have discovered if she hasn’t started getting mammograms.
“I was completely shocked that anything showed up on it,” Mammone said.
An abnormal screening led to her diagnosis.
She has stage one ductal carcinoma that had already spread from the milk ducts to her surrounding breast tissue.
Mammone was treated with a lumpectomy and radiation.
Wednesday marks six months of being cancer free.
“I didn’t have any symptoms. I didn’t feel any lumps. I didn’t have other than it being a scheduled routine mammogram. I just had no idea. So again, early detection is what’s going to save your life, really,” Mammone said.
Lee Health oncologist Janine Harewood is Mammone’s doctor.
“There is an increase in women below the age of 50 being diagnosed with breast cancer, and so those women were being missed with the previous recommendation of starting at age 50 is very important,” Harwood said.
Early screening is especially important to women of color.
Black women may be less likely to get breast cancer but more likely to die from it.
Black women have a death rate twice as high as white women the same age.
“They’re more likely to have more aggressive breast cancers, like triple-negative breast cancer and inflammatory breast cancer that tends to grow fairly quickly,” Harewood said.
Getting diagnosed early offers the best chance for a cure.
It allowed Mammone to celebrate survivorship.
“Whenever I found out my diagnosis, my friends are, ‘What can I do, what can I do? What can I do?’ And I say, ‘Go get your mammogram,'” Mammone said.
Because, as Mammone learned, cancer can happen at any age.