Women should start getting mammograms at age 40 and continue every other year thereafter for breast cancer screening, according to the new guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

"The Task Force now recommends that all women get screened for breast cancer every other year starting at age 40 and continuing through age 74. More research is needed about whether and how additional screening might help women with dense breasts stay healthy and on the benefits and harms of screening in women older than 75," the USPSTF said in a news release.

The updated recommendation lowers the screening age to include all individuals assigned female at birth who are at an average risk of breast cancer, extending beyond the previous threshold of 50. This is expected to save more women's lives from breast cancer, particularly as cancer diagnosis rates rise among women in their 40s.

"More women in their 40s have been getting breast cancer, with rates increasing about 2 percent each year, so this recommendation will make a big difference for people across the country. By starting to screen all women at age 40, we can save nearly 20 percent more lives from breast cancer overall. This new approach has even greater potential benefit for Black women, who are much more likely to die of breast cancer" Task Force chair Dr. Wanda Nicholson said.

Breast cancer ranks as the second highest cause of cancer-related deaths in American women. Black women face a greater risk, being 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than White women. Hence, the updated recommendation aims to tackle the current racial disparities seen in breast cancer diagnosis and survival rates.

"We need to know how best to address the health disparities related to breast cancer so all women can live longer and healthier lives. Clinicians must help reduce any barriers to patients getting the recommended screening, timely, equitable, and appropriate follow-up, and effective treatment of breast cancer," said Task Force vice chair, Dr. John Wong.

The updated recommendation applies to all women at average risk of breast cancer, including those with a family history of the disease or dense breasts. "The recommendation does not apply to people who have a personal history of breast cancer, who are at very high risk of breast cancer due to certain genetic markers or a history of high-dose radiation therapy to their chest at a young age, or who have had a high-risk lesion on previous biopsies," the news release stated.

For women 75 years old or older, the USPSTF suggests discussing with their healthcare providers whether to continue regular screening, considering their medical background and personal choices.