Despite proven success in reducing breast cancer mortality, mammography remains one of the most controversial techniques of cancer screening. The recommendation that women aged 50 and older have regular mammograms is universally accepted. But the question over whether women aged 40-49 years should receive regular screenings has sharply divided the medical community.

MAMMOGRAPHIC PLOT: Jack Sklansky has developed a method of graphically representing a mammogram, which could improve accuracy.
Earlier this year, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) went against the recommendation of the National Institutes of Health when it endorsed biennial mammograms for women under 50 years old. Critics of the decision have charged that NCI and its National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) disregarded scientific evidence and gave in to political pressure with the recommendation (S. Glazer, CQ Researcher, 7[24]:555-64, 1997).

The newest studies on the benefits and risks of mammographic screening for the controversial age group could...

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