By Abraham Kim, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

April 4, 2018 -- The American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) have updated their breast cancer screening guidelines to recommend that black women at high risk of breast cancer start breast screening at an earlier age.

Though the societies still advocate that women with an average risk of developing breast cancer begin screening at the age of 40, they now recommend that black women with a high risk of breast cancer partake in risk assessment beginning at age 30. Women deemed as being at high risk under this assessment should seek earlier breast cancer screening, they said.

The motivation for this shift in breast cancer screening guidelines stems from several factors unique to black women:

  • Their breast cancer mortality rate is 42% higher than that of non-Hispanic white women, even though their cancer incidence rates are nearly the same.
  • Their risk of developing aggressive, triple-negative tumors in the breast is two times greater than that of white women.
  • They are two times as likely to die of early breast cancer but are less likely to be diagnosed with stage I breast cancer.
  • They have a higher frequency of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations, which are associated with increased breast cancer risk.

"Since 1990, breast cancer death rates dropped 23% in African-American women -- approximately half that in whites," said Dr. Wendy DeMartini. "We changed our approach to help save more African-American women and others at higher risk from this deadly disease."

In addition to these changes, the ACR and SBI now recommend MRI screening for women who previously had a diagnosis of breast cancer.


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