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Breast cancer debate questions mammograms and age

There is debate going on about when women should begin to have regular mammograms, at the age of 40 or at the age of 50, according to a recent report from CBS News.

A 2009 governmental guideline suggests routine mammograms beginning at age 50, but many doctors - and the American Cancer Society - recommends beginning yearly mammograms at the age of 40.

"Seventy percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer don't have a family history of breast cancer. It's very important that we continue to do all that we can to catch breast cancer in the earliest stages so that we can continue to save lives," Dr. Donna Plecha, director of breast imaging at Case Medical Center told the news source.

The University of Colorado reported a drop in women getting mammograms when they are in their 40s and some doctors believe that the later age requirement leads to higher breast cancer rates, and more deadly breast cancers going undetected.

The other side of the debate is represented by doctors like Virginia Moyer of Baylor College of Medicine, who believes that the effect of mammograms on women aged 40 to 49 is marginal and comes with risks of unnecessary stress and biopsies.

The American Cancer Society reports that more than 200,000 women were diagnosed with the illness last year and that women over the age of 40 should receive yearly mammogram exams. 
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