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Two cancer screening-related items recently made the news, both of which address the question of when (or if) such tests are appropriate:
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has walked back from its 2012 position that most men should forego a screening for prostate cancer, then claiming that its risks outweigh any benefits. In an April 11 draft recommendation, the panel says now states that “the decision about whether to be screened for prostate cancer should be an individual one,” and that men between the ages of 55 and 69 should discuss the pro and cons with their physician and make decisions based on their own values and preferences.
The USPSTF's revised guidance concurs with what the American Cancer Society (ACS) and MedBen WellLiving recommends: Men age 50 and above (or younger, in cases of high risk) should talk to their family doctors to determine if prostate screening is right for them.
Another USPSTF decision that has engendered a fair amount of debate is its recommendation that women without a family history of breast cancer wait until age 50 to have a yearly mammogram. But a new survey found that 81% of responding physicians believe that breast cancer screenings for women should begin at age 40, and 88% say screenings should start no later than 45.
MedBen WellLiving also recommends annual mammograms for women age 40 and over, while ACS screening guidelines encourage personalized screening decisions for women ages 40 to 44, with routine mammograms starting at 45.