Narrator: This is Science Today. A University of California, San Francisco study argues that mammograms should be personalized based on a woman's age, her family history, and other factors. This challenges current breast cancer screening guidelines that are based on age alone.
Kerlikowske: The whole goal of our study was to risk stratify across all age groups, not targeting just younger women or older women. It's similar to when we prescribe cholesterol drugs or we treat hypertension. There's usually algorithms to do that. We don't give everybody cholesterol medications. We say, well what are their other risk factors?
Narrator: Study leader Karla Kerlikowske explains that costly annual mammographies often do more harm than good for women who are at low risk of developing cancer.
Kerlikowske: You double the harms, you double the false positives. If you're going to screen anybody it should be every two years and for some potentially even every three years. It's like how old are you and what risk factors do you have? And based on that we'll figure out when you should start screening and how often you should be screened.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.