Testing at 40 Rather Than 50, but is Frustrated That They Still Don’t Address Black Women’s Concerns.
ATLANTA, May 9, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI), the leading national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Black women and girls, issues a statement in support of the revised recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that call for biannual breast cancer screening to begin at age 40.
The USPSTF recently announced draft recommendations that suggest women should begin biannual screenings for breast cancer starting at age 40 for average-risk women. This revision marks an earlier start to screening than the previous recommendation of starting at age 50, which included a caveat for women in their forties to discuss the possibility of starting earlier with their doctor, especially if they had a family history of breast cancer. New scientific data showing a 2% annual growth rate of breast cancer among women aged 40 to 49 from 2015 to 2019 prompted the USPSTF to revise their guidelines.
“Increasing the screening age to 50, as previously recommended by the Task Force, would result in an additional 1200–1300 deaths from breast cancer per year among Black women,” said BWHI President Linda Goler Bount, MPH. “BWHI has long been an advocate for beginning annual breast cancer screenings at age 40, and we are pleased to see that the USPSTF’s revised guidelines align with our recommendations for starting screening; however, we are disappointed that recommendations for annual screening were not made,” said Blount.
Since discrepancies in breast cancer survival rates continue to exist among Black women, BWHI remains committed to working for the health and welfare of Black women and girls. Black women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age than white women on average, and our malignancies are more likely to be the aggressive and fast-developing TNBC subtype. The Task Force’s guideline for biennial screening has not changed, which means that Black women will continue to be more likely to have their tumors discovered at a later stage.
The Task Force noted that there are many key areas where more research is needed to address health disparities. None of the studies on which the recommendations were based included Black women. BWHI has begun a study of breast and cervical cancer among Black and brown women to answer some of the questions the Task Force raised. We hope to definitively answer the question of the need for annual screening mammography. If these recommendations become policy, insurance companies will not cover the cost of annual mammography, leaving Black women to pay out of pocket to ensure the earliest detection of their breast cancer.
BWHI continues to work tirelessly to improve the health, wellness, and highest quality of life for Black women and girls by advocating for comprehensive and inclusive breast cancer research, treatment, and screening guidelines.
For more information on BWHI’s work, please visit www.bwhi.org.