Posted Monday, October 17, 2011 --- 5:10 p.m.
A new study supports getting mammograms every other year instead of annually.
It finds that more than 60 percent of women who get tested each year for a decade will be called back at least once for extra tests that turn out not to show breast cancer.
Screening every other year, as a government task force recommends, drops this false alarm rate to 42 percent without a big risk of cancer being found at a late stage, the study suggests. Having your previous mammogram available for comparison to the new one cuts the chance of a false alarm in half.
The study appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It does not get into the debate over whether mammograms should start at age 40 or 50.
Copyright 2011. The Associated Press.