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Breast Cancer Screenings

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Marsha Anderson was 63 when her annual mammogram picked up early breast cancer.

"It had not spread to lymph nodes so a lumpectomy took care of what needed to be removed."

Now a new study suggests some older women can be screened for breast cancer every two years without increasing their chances of developing advanced disease.

"Between 50 and 74 having mammograms done every other year did not appear to expose women for the risk of later diagnosis for breast cancer," says Dr. Freya Schnabel of NYU Langone Medical Center.

Researchers also found mammograms every two years in older women could lower their risk of false positive results, which can trigger unnecessary biopsies.

The report did show that women in their 40s with extremely dense breasts should consider annual screening to reduce their chances of later stage breast cancers.

But the report did not take into account other risk factors.

"For women with dense breasts and especially women with extensive risk in their background, some of these analysis really don't apply well."

There are more than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer every year. The American Cancer Society says it's not changing its screening guidelines based on this study.

"We're going to continue recommending for now mammography on an annual basis beginning at the age of 40 all the way through age 75," says Dr. Otis Brawley of American Cancer Society. 

"I would say do it once a year and be safer," says Anderson.

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