Stamatia Destounis, MD, FACR, Chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Commission on Breast Imaging, contributed this piece.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. New ACR breast cancer screening guidelines call for all women — particularly Black and Ashkenazi Jewish women — to talk to their doctors by age 25 to determine their breast cancer risk, when screening should start, and how often (and how) they should be screened.

With more women under the age of 40 getting breast cancer, the guidelines recommend patients talk to their doctor by age 25 to see:

•  If they should get a mammogram before age 40.
•  If they need other tests – like an MRI – with their yearly mammogram.
•  Or – if they are at high-risk – should be checked more than once a year.

Prior to age 50, minority women are 127% more likely to die of breast cancer; 72% more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer; and 58% more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-state breast cancer. Black women are also 42% more likely to die from breast cancer despite roughly equal incidence rates.

Patients and physicians can visit the Mammography Saves Lives website for resources to help facilitate these important conversations. ACR has also developed public service announcements to educate younger women about their breast cancer risk. In addition, ACR patient-friendly animated videos explaining breast cancer screening and breast imaging during pregnancy and lactation can help patients participate in shared decision-making when it comes to breast care.

Research has shown that early detection decreases breast cancer deaths. This month and beyond, we can save more lives by sharing these lifesaving screening guidelines and resources with our patients and referring physicians.

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