Major Shift in Mammogram Guidelines for Women

The American Cancer Society is now advising women to get yearly mammograms starting at age 45.
2:17 | 10/21/15

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Transcript for Major Shift in Mammogram Guidelines for Women
Ryan, thanks so much for the late latest. A major development for women in the battle against breast cancer, the American cancer society is out with new guidelines for mammograms. ABC's Dr. Richard Besser is here and, rich, this headline causing a lot of confusion and a lot of concern. Yeah, you know, I understand the confusion. Take a look at this. There's several guidelines out from different groups. The ob/gyns and radiologists recommend starting at 40. The American cancer society, it's their first revision in 12 years and say start at age 45. What they say is women age 40 to 44 should have screening based on personal choice. At 45, it's annual. And then starting at age 55, mammogram every other year. And then in addition, they are no longer recommending that your doctor or nurse do an annual breast exam. What they said was that's picking up changes that aren't cancer and leading to treatment that's not necessary. And, rich, going off of that point, most people know that I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 from a mammogram and so for women like me or women who are afraid they're going to be me, the big question is why. Early desection saves lives. Is it suggesting it doesn't save enough lives? What they're trying to balance is saving lives and reducing harm. And when they looked at the data, they said that for a woman of average risk, 45 is that cut point. But they're still leaving choice so a woman can start having screening at age 40. For women at higher risk, anyone who has a family history of breast cancer, who may have a genetic mutation like brca or x-ray radiation treatment as a child, starting earlier and more often is the way to go. 40 to 44, it's your choice but the big question is will this affect your act to have insurance cover those mammograms starting at an earlier age if you want to have that. It shouldn't. Yeah, it shouldn't because the insurance is based off the government recommendation and when they recommended age 50, congress said, no, you have to pay starting at age 40 so it won't change that. It may change what some doctors recommend for you, however but you do have that choice. Let's hope the access is still there for all women who want it. Dr. Besser, thank you so much and I know that a lot of people have questions. You will be taking those questions on "Gma" Facebook page and on your Twitter account, Dr. Richard Besser. We turn to those church

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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