Health and Psychology

Health and psychology


Breast Cancer Screenings

Posted by Margaret Donohue on October 21, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Breast cancer in women has a population spike between the ages of 30 and 70.    


Percent of U.S. Women Who Develop Breast Cancer over 10-, 20-, and 30-Year Intervals According to Their Current Age, 2009–2011

Current Age 10 Years 20 Years 30 Years

30 0.44 1.88 4.07

40 1.45 3.67 6.83

50 2.29 5.56 8.76

60 3.48 6.89 8.90

70 3.88 6.16 N/A

Source: Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Garshell J, Miller D, Altekruse SF, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z,Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975–2011, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD,, based on November 2013 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER Web site, April 2014.

So the American Cancer Society has recommended that cancer screenings should start at age 45.  That breast exams not be done by physicians due to time constraints, and that women over 50 with a negative screening should get evaluated every two years.  

If these recommendations are followed, the rate of cancer in African American women between age 30 and 45 will increase and cancers will be found at later stages when they are harder to treat.  This is a population most at risk for breat cancer between age 30 and 45.   

Global statistics to inform health policy should be a thing of the past.  More individualized treatment recommendations should be being made based on a woman's history, genetics, racial background and life expectancy.  The more someone knows about their history, the better they can be informed about health care decisions.

A young woman with a history of breast cancer in her family who is positive for the BCRA (breast cancer gene muttion) may want to be screened early.  A Caucasian woman with no family history can wait to age 45 for an initial screening.  An African American woman with a family history of breast cancer may want to get an initial screening at 30 depending on the age at which relatives developed the disease.

If you want help with health related decision making, assistance in developing a medical genogram to evaluate risk factors, or assistance with treatment planning, feel free to contact us.  818-223-4116 our main office is in Glendale.

Categories: Health Psychology, Diagnosis