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In 2002, the United States Preventative Services Task Force recommended that women initiate annual breast cancer screening at age 40. Just seven years later, the same agency revised those standards in order to reduce the risk posed by unnecessary treatment, especially among women aged 40 - 49. While it seems counterintuitive to consider the risks associated with breast cancer screening on par with breast cancer itself, the risks are real and must be weighed alongside the benefits of screening. The following chart compares the benefits.

Age Group Breast Cancer Deaths Prevented by Screening
40 - 49 1 / 1904
50 - 59 1 / 1339
60 - 69 1 / 377

The new task force guidelines were controversial in 2009 and remain so today. According to critics of the new guidelines, every mammogram has the potential to save a life and women should never be discouraged from receiving breast cancer screening. According to proponents of the new guidelines, women are harmed by the stress of needless follow-up screenings, by the invasive treatment of cancers that would not have done them any harm, and by other forms of "over-treatment" as well.

The following list contains claims that could feasibly be made by some future researcher. Which of them, if true, would best support the Task Force's revision of the guidelines, and which would best support the critics of the new guidelines? Make only two selections, one in each column.

Task Force


About 15% of women aged 40 – 49 have genetic risk factors for breast cancer in their family history

About 3 / 2000 deaths occur due to "over-treatment" of breast cancer among women aged 40 - 49

About 80% of all cancers can be cured if detected before the age of 50

Mammogram radiation is toxic at any age and may be a contributing factor in the increasing incidence of breast cancer

About 70% of breast cancers are found through self breast exam

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