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Changing breast cancer guidelines can lead to confusion

Men and women throughout the United States rely on medical professionals to help diagnose serious illnesses. Cancer is among the most serious illnesses that doctors can diagnose. For women, breast cancer is often the most common culprit. In fact, each year in the United States around 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Of these women, 11 percent are under the age of 45.

There are variety of methods that can be used to diagnose breast cancer in a woman. Whether it's through self-examination, doctors' checks or a mammogram, early detection of breast cancer is key to a woman's survival. The misdiagnosis of breast cancer can be fatal.

Recently, there have been conflicting reports about when a woman should start to receive regular mammograms to try and detect any signs of breast cancer. For example, the American College of Radiology and be American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women start to receive routine mammograms at the age of 40. On the other hand, the American Cancer Society recently changed its recommendations for routine mammograms. This organization now recommends that women begin to receive mammograms starting at the age of 45. Additionally, the U.S. Preventative Task Force now recommends that women receive mammograms and exams starting at the age of 50.

With all these different recommendations, it can be difficult for women and for doctors to determine when routine mammograms should begin. As a result, some members of the U.S. legislature have pushed for clearer guidelines about when breast care should begin. This clarity is important to ensure that insurance companies will cover the services for women throughout the United States.

If a doctor is unaware of changing recommendations like those for mammograms, the doctor may miss the warning signs of a deadly disease. The failure to diagnose a Maryland patient can result in severe harm to that person. When that occurs, people need to be aware of their legal rights. Medical malpractice may have occurred.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "New mammography guidelines could cloud decision-making, doctors say," Meredith Cohn, Oct. 20, 2015

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