New research suggests less women in their 40s are getting mammograms after a government panel recommended against screening most women in the group.
Lea Ciavarra had her first mammogram at 40. She never expected her doctor would find cancer.
"I was a little bit blindsided," said Ciavarra.
Under current government recommendations , she wouldn't have been screened for years. in 2009 a task force recommended women do not need a regular mammogram until they are 50 years old.
And now new research suggests fewer women in their 40s are getting them.
A University of Colorado study found a drop in mammograms in those women in the 9 months after the new guidelines were issued.
"We've seen an overall reduction in the proportion of eligible American women who are having annual screening. This has been a trend and it may be that the trend is now accentuated by these guidelines," said Dr. Freya Schnabel, Director of Beast Surgery, NYU Langone Medical Center.
The American Cancer society isn't embracing the governments guidelines and still recommends most women should start getting regular mammograms at age 40.
A second study of breast cancer patients in their 40's shows those who got mammograms often caught the disease at an earlier, more tratable stage.
"The strides that we've made in America in reducing the death rate from breast cancer have in part been due to our emphasis on early detection," said Dr. Scnabel.
Thanks to her mammogram, Lea's cancer was caught early.
"I feel like my case is the perfect example of someone you know that was totally healthy, and risk free and yet did have a cancer," said Lea.
If she had waited to get her mammogram, she might not be alive today.
The guidelines haven't changed for women at high risk of breast cancer. They need to be screened early and often.