Why are examinations only offered for women aged 50 years and older?
The risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is greatest for women between 50 and 69 years of age. The benefit of a mammography screening, i.e. being saved from dying from breast cancer, is therefore greatest for women in this age range. This has been scientifically proven.
Younger women also develop breast cancer. However, studies have, to date, not provided any sufficient clear benefits of a mammography screening for women under 50 years of age. It is scientifically assumed that for women under 50 years of age, the benefits of a mammography screening outweigh the risks less than for women between the ages of 50 and 69.
The fact alone that the risk of a 40 year old woman developing breast cancer is about 3 times less than a 50 year old woman already lessens the benefit of a mammography screening. Another reason for the lower benefit-risk balance is that the breast tissue in the majority of younger women is more dense and is still affected by the hormone cycle. This makes a mammogram a slightly less reliable method of examination. Carcinomas can be overlooked in dense breast tissue and hormonal changes can result in unnecessary follow-ups. The risk of radiation exposure of breast tissue is also slightly higher in younger women than in women over 50 years, but also still very low between 40 and 49 years of age.
If you detect signs of breast cancer or e.g. have felt a lump in your breast, please always contact your physician to follow up on these abnormalities. If you have a high predisposition due to family history you should also consult your treating physician. In this case they will then discuss the best examination method and how frequently you should be examined.
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