Linda Hovanessian Larsen, MD, a breast radiologist and director of the Division of Breast Imaging at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), is speaking out about the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s latest recommendations regarding mammography screening. The task force suggests initiating mammograms at the age of 40 instead of 50, a change that carries significant benefits for patients and healthcare providers alike, Larsen says.

Larsen emphasizes that these new guidelines are an important step toward addressing the disparities in breast cancer screening and treatment, particularly among ethnic groups such as Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Alaskan Native women. By recommending mammography at an earlier age, the guidelines aim to improve the detection and management of breast cancer in these demographics.

However, Larsen, in alignment with the American College of Radiology, advocates for annual mammography screenings instead of biennial ones for women of average risk. Regular screenings enable the early detection of breast cancer, enhancing the chances of successful treatment and better outcomes. By emphasizing the importance of yearly mammograms, Larsen stresses the significance of early detection in the fight against breast cancer.

Moreover, at Keck Medicine, breast imaging physicians go beyond conventional mammography by providing supplemental screenings like ultrasounds or MRIs for women with dense breasts. These additional imaging techniques are crucial for individuals at a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to breast density, Larsen explains. By tailoring the screening approach to individual needs, Keck Medicine aims to optimize detection and offer personalized care to patients.

Larsen acknowledges that the new guidelines are a step in the right direction, as they prioritize earlier mammography screenings. However, she highlights the importance of annual screenings and the incorporation of supplementary imaging modalities when necessary. These combined efforts will help in detecting breast cancer at its earliest stages and ensure that appropriate interventions are initiated promptly, she says.