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Women in Their 40s Want Mammograms: Poll

Harris Interactive/HealthDay survey finds many women disagree with new recommendations that screening should begin at 50

NORWALK, Conn., USA (May 4, 2011) – A U.S. health task force stunned much of the medical world and many women in November 2009 by recommending that most women didn't need to get their first mammogram until age 50.

But a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll finds that women in their 40s want their mammograms, and two-thirds of them weren't even aware of the task force's recommendations.

About 57 percent of women surveyed believe mammograms should start at age 40, according to the poll of 1,083 U.S. women over 18 years of age conducted April 18-20, while just 12 percent thought that 50 was the right age to start getting the imaging tests..

"Breast cancer is something women are taught to look for at an early age through monthly self-exams, and the magic age of 40 had been when the first mammogram was supposed to happen," said Regina A. Corso, senior vice president of public relations and youth research for the Harris Poll. "That obviously goes against recommendations that have recently come out, and which almost half of women [polled] believe are there because these experts are mainly interested in saving money by reducing health-care costs."

Specifically, 45 percent of the women polled said the task force pushed back the recommended age to 50 to reduce health-care costs and avoid administering unnecessary tests, while 30 percent believe the task force made the recommendation because excessive tests produced too many so-called false-positive results, leading women to unnecessarily think they had cancer when they did not.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) bucked long-standing advice 17 months ago that yearly mammograms should start for women when they turn 40. The task force said mammograms for women in their 40s led to too many false-positives, unnecessary worry and biopsies, and relatively few lives saved.

Instead, the task force recommended routine mammograms every two years for women ages 50 to 74. Women in their 40s were advised to discuss their breast cancer risk factors with their doctors and make a personal decision about whether to get screened or not.

Despite widespread news coverage of the task force recommendations, the new poll found that 66 percent of women in their 40s hadn't even heard about the recommendations. And 72 percent of women in their 40s disagreed with the new recommendations after being told about them.

The new recommendations aside, many women in their 40s are still getting mammograms -- 77 percent of women in their 40s have already had at least one mammogram, while 64 percent reported getting one annually, the poll found.

The American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual mammograms for women starting at age 40.

More information
Read the USPSTF guidelines here.

The poll included 1,083 U.S adult women were surveyed online between April 18-20, by Harris Interactive, one of the world's leading custom market research firms, and HealthDay, a leading producer and syndicator of health news.

The complete findings of the newest joint Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll are available here.  HealthDay's news report is available here. Full data on the poll and its methodology are available at Harris Interactive.

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About HealthDay
HealthDay, a division of Scout News LLC, is a leading producer and syndicator of evidence-based health news for consumers and physicians and is the largest syndicator of that news to Internet sites. Its consumer health news service (www.healthday.com) appears on more than 5,000 Web sites such as Yahoo!, MSN, iVillage, US News & World Report, Everyday Health, RightHealth, RealAge, Healthfinder.gov, MedlinePlus, hundreds of hospitals and hospital group Web sites, as well as print publication Web sites across the country. HealthDay also produces Physician's Briefing (www.physiciansbriefing.com), a news service for physicians, nurses and other medical professionals updated twice daily providing 15 articles a day across 32 medical specialties. HealthDay also provides custom content for major health portals. The newest addition to the HealthDay portfolio is HealthDay TV -- a 90-second news broadcast of essential health information that appears on several major media Web sites, U.S. government Web sites and other health information sites.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

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