Physicians group issues new breast cancer screening guidelines

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MELVILLE -

A physicians group is issuing new breast cancer screening guidelines.

Linda Bonanno says she never went for a mammogram until she felt a lump in her breast. She was diagnosed at age 41 with an aggressive form of breast cancer, the same disease that killed her mother. She says she can't believe that a national group of physicians is now recommending that women at average risk for breast cancer get screened starting at age 50.

The American College of Radiology says screenings should start at age 40; the American Cancer Society says 45. But an independent government task force says it should be every other year starting at age 50, the same as the American College of Physicians.

Dr. Brian O'Hea, director of the Carol Baldwin Breast Care Center, says he understands that different guidelines from different groups can be confusing. But the bottom line, he says, is that a lot of the decisions are still up to the patient and the doctor.

Michaela Koeberl was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36, when she had her first mammogram. She had no family history and no risk factors. She says she probably wouldn't be alive if she waited until age 50.

The American College of Physicians says it's about balancing the benefits of early screening with the harms, including overdiagnosis, overtreatment, false positive results and radiation exposure.

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