Beginning screenings at age 40 is an important step, but concerns remain
May 9, 2023 (Washington, DC) — Today, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued new draft guidelines expanding its recommendations for breast cancer screenings to encompass a broader age range, an update from the guidelines published in 2016.
Millicent Gorham, CEO and Board Chair, Alliance for Women’s Health & Prevention:
“As an organization focused on ensuring all women have access to affordable preventive care and screenings, we commend the USPSTF for proposing an update to its breast cancer screening guidelines and ensuring insurance coverage for mammograms starting at age 40. This update doubles down on the importance of timely detection and diagnosis, which increases a person’s chances of survival.
We are disappointed that the draft guidelines do not include annual screenings or recommendations for women with dense breasts. AWHP will urge the USPSTF to address both in its final guidelines. An expansion of the guidelines will foster increased breast cancer screenings – and result in more lives saved.
These new draft guidelines also reflect an important step forward in addressing racial disparities. For more than a decade, the racial disparity in deaths from breast cancer has remained at 40% or higher. Black women younger than age 50 have a death rate that is twice as high as white women that age. American Indian and Alaska Native women are also more likely to die from the disease than white women.
AWHP’s survey earlier this year reaffirmed the critical role of insurance coverage. The data shows that the number one barrier to preventive care is out-of-pocket costs and women are less likely to receive screenings if they are not covered by insurance.
AWHP looks forward to submitting public comment supporting the proposed age expansion and raising concerns related to dense breast tissue. We will also continue to advocate for legislative solutions that guarantee access to important diagnostic testing, such as the Find It Early Act, a recently reintroduced bipartisan bill that would ensure all health insurance plans cover screening and diagnostic breast imaging, including mammograms, ultrasounds and breast ultrasounds, and MRIs with no cost-sharing.”
The Alliance for Women’s Health and Prevention is a non-partisan 501(c)(4) non-profit organization working to ensure that all women and girls have access to high-quality preventive care. Our mission is to advance policy that drives equitable access and prevents the burden and progression of disease to improve the lives and health of all women and girls.
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