If you're a woman (or somebody who loves a woman), then listen up: this news is for you. The American Cancer Society, which has long been the authority on preventive screening protocols, has officially changed its guidelines regarding mammograms. In a move quite contrary to the ACS's former recommendations — which urged women to begin annual testing at age 40 — the institution now says that women with no predisposition for breast cancer begin exams later and less frequently. According to the new recommendations, 45-year-old women at an average risk for breast cancer should start annual mammograms until age 54, when they can reduce testing frequency to every other year.
Another big change to the ACS guidelines regards clinical breast examinations, which your doctor usually performs during your gynecological exam: instead of the previously recommended annual exams, the society now says that women of average risk no longer need the tests at all. However, the American Cancer Society emphasizes that these new guidelines are "recommendations," allowing women to choose whichever route of breast cancer screening they feel most comfortable with. So to make an informed decision about your health, be sure to read the ACS's full statement for all the details, and always stay educated about ways that you can reduce your risk for breast cancer.