New Guidance Recommends Breast Cancer Screening Every 2 Years for Women 40 and Older

May 3, 2024


Katrina Bishop
Policy Analyst


ACHI Communications

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Women ages 40 to 74 should be screened for breast cancer every two years, according to an updated recommendation released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on Tuesday, April 30.

Previously, the USPSTF recommended that screening begin no later than age 50 and that women in their 40s talk with their healthcare providers about their individual risk.

The updated guidelines also address racial disparities in breast cancer diagnosis and survival rates, particularly among non-Hispanic Black women. According to the USPSTF, non-Hispanic Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than non-Hispanic White women.

The recommendation applies to cisgender women and all other persons assigned female at birth who are 40 years or older and at average risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer ranks second in both frequency and mortality among cancers affecting women in the US. In 2024, an estimated 42,250 women will die of breast cancer. The new screening recommendation is projected to prevent 1.3 breast cancer deaths per 1,000 women screened.

Arkansas law already requires insurers and the Medicaid program to cover mammograms for women ages 40 to 64 with no out-of-pocket cost. In 2021, the Arkansas General Assembly extended protection from cost-sharing to include continuation of screening for women who need a breast ultrasound in addition to a mammogram due to density of tissue.

The USPSTF’s new recommendation has a “B” grade, meaning the panel recommends the service and there is high certainty of a moderate net benefit or there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial. Recommendation grades range from A (highest certainty of substantial benefit) to D (moderate or high certainty of no net benefit, or of the harms outweighing the benefits; the USPSTF discourages the use of services with this grade). Under the Affordable Care Act’s definition of covered preventive services, certain health plans are required to provide coverage for services with a grade of A or B.

The USPSTF is an independent, voluntary panel of national health experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine. Its recommendations are intended not only to offer guidance to healthcare providers but also to provide patients and their families with accurate and up-to-date information.

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