ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A new study finds mammograms for younger women may prevent breast cancer deaths.

Breast cancer surgeon Dr. Theresa Schwartz at Saint Louis University Hospital says these findings are a departure from screening guidelines which urge routine mammograms only in women between the ages of 50 and 74.

“The unfortunate part with that is that women under the age of 50 that get breast cancer tend to get more aggressive, faster-growing, more deadly cancer,” she says. “50 percent of all breast cancer-related deaths are in women under the age of 50 so it’s kind of hard to justify not screening women in that high-risk age group.”

The study found 609 confirmed breast cancer deaths. The median age of death from breast cancer was 49, and the median age of death from any other cause was 72.

Twenty-nine percent of the deceased had been screened with mammograms, while 71 percent had not gone through screening. In addition, only 13 percent of the deaths occurred in women who were 70 or older, and 50 percent were in women younger than 50 years old.

That’s why Schwartz says she tells her patients without symptoms or a family history of the disease to start screening mammograms at age 40 and receive them every year for as long as they are healthy.

Schwartz says if you have a family history of the disease, you should talk with your doctor about starting your mammograms even earlier in life.


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