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E. How Women Should Deal with Conflicting Information about Mammography

Narrator: This is Science Today. Younger women about to have their first mammogram may be dealing with some conflicting information about the benefits of mammography. Epidemiologist Karla Kerlikowske of the University of California, San Francisco says some organizations recommend women start to get regular screenings at age forty, while others say only over age fifty.

Kerlikowske: There's a lot of controversy and it really just depends on what organizations you listen to or what country you live in. If you have a family history of breast cancer or you've had breast cancer, then everyone agrees that those women should get regular mammography, no matter what age they are.

Narrator: But in previous research, Kerlikowske did find that the overall benefit of mammogram screening in women under fifty is relatively small.

Kerlikowske: So I think in younger women, since it's a toss up of whether the benefits clearly outweigh the risks, I think instead of just automatically recommending that everyone get screened starting at age forty, that they really need to discuss with their provider what the risks and benefits are.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.