Study suggests earlier mammograms could save lives


A study by Harvard Medical School looked at more than 600 women who died from breast cancer.

Out of 609 confirmed deaths from breast cancer from 1990 and 2007 at Harvard Hospitals, 395 (71 percent) of these women never had a mammogram prior to diagnosis.

Half of these deaths were in women younger than 50, and only 13 percent of these deaths occurred in women 70 or older.

The median age of women who died of breast cancer was 49, and the median age of women who had breast cancer but died of other causes is 72.

This suggests that regular screening should be indicated for women under 50, and that younger women have more aggressive forms of breast cancer that are both resistant to treatment and more likely to end in death.

The US Preventive Services Task Force says women should not start getting regular mammograms until age 50.

Christine Benjamin was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s.

"I was young when I got breast cancer," said Benjamin, "It's a terrifying time in your life, I would love to prevent that from happening to other young women."

However, despite that, she would not recommend a mammogram to every woman in her 40s. As a director of "Share", a breast cancer support organization, Benjamin works with hundreds of women, and says when it comes to mammograms, it is not one size fits all.

"It's a personal decision what at the end of the day you can live with," adds Benjamin.

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