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National task force not lowering age for routine breast cancer screening to 40

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A national task force that provides guidance for primary health-care providers is not lowering the recommended breast cancer screening age to 40, despite urging from several cancer specialists, surgeons and radiologists.

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care has been reviewing its current advice that women start routine breast cancer screening at age 50.

It holds firm on that position, and on previous advice against routine screening past age 74.

However, the task force adds that if someone age 40 and over understands the benefits and harms of early screening and still wants to go ahead, they should be able to get a mammogram every two to three years.

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that routine mammograms start at age 40 and says it is "disappointed" by the task force decision announced Thursday.

It is up to the provinces and territories to decide when to offer mammograms free of charge.

Several provinces and territories, including British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Yukon already offer breast cancer screening starting at age 40.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2024.

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content. 

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