Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Panel: Screening Mammogram Guidelines Change

    U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Routine Mammography Screening Every 2 Years
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Nov. 16, 2009 – A government appointed expert panel is calling for huge changes in breast cancer screening in the United States, but a leading cancer group is highly critical of the move.

    In newly revised guidelines, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends against routine mammography screening for average-risk women in their 40s.

    USPSTF also says women between the ages of 50 and 74 should have mammogram screenings every two years instead of every year.

    Routine screening is not recommended for women older than 74.

    In addition, the government task force:

    • Concluded women and their doctors should base the decision to start mammography before age 50 on the woman’s individual risks and preferences.
    • Recommends against breast self-exams based on findings from two large studies showing the practice to have no value.
    • Concluded more evidence is needed to determine if clinical breast exams performed by trained medical professionals are useful.
    • Concluded more research is needed before recommendations for or against mammography screening after age 74 can be made.
    • Concluded there is not enough evidence to know if the newer digital mammography or MRI are superior to traditional film mammography.

    ACS Does Not Support Changes

    The dramatically revised guidelines were based on a comprehensive analysis of the research exploring the benefits and risks of breast cancer screening and a risk-benefit model commissioned by USPSTF.

    Task force vice-chairwoman Diana B. Petitti, MD, MPH, says the new recommendations do not mean average-risk women younger than 50 and older than 74 should never be screened.

    Rather, they are meant to foster discussion between these women and their doctors about the risks vs. benefits of routine screening.

    Potential risks include anxiety, unnecessary biopsy, and unnecessary treatment of cancers that would never become life threatening.

    "A woman who still wants to be screened after having the conversation with her clinician and considering the balance of benefits and harms should absolutely be screened," Pettiti tells WebMD.

    The American Cancer Society will continue to recommend annual routine mammography screening for all healthy women age 40 and over, ACS Chief Medical Officer Otis Brawley, MD, confirmed in a statement issued today.

    "This is one screening test I recommend unequivocally, and would recommend to any woman 40 and over, be she a patient, a stranger, or a family member," he notes.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
     
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
     
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    VIDEO
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Article
     
    Woman getting mammogram
    Article
    Screening Tests for Women
    Article
     
    serious woman
    Article
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    QUIZ
     
    what is your cancer risk
    Article
    breast cancer survivors
    Article