The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced November 16 that the recommended age for mammogram screening for women at low risk should change from age 40 to age 50, and be decreased from every year to every other year. The task force also stated that breast self-exams are not beneficial in detecting cancer. The task force explains that the current standards of getting screened for breast cancer early often leads to too many false alarms and unneeded biopsies without substantially improving the odds of survival.
We recognize the scientific basis for the USPSTF recommendations, and that there is not general consensus regarding these guidelines. At the same time, there is convincing evidence that early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and annual mammograms lead to better outcomes, especially with the use of digital mammography. While the current recommendations of yearly mammography for women 40 and older are not perfect, patients are encouraged to work with their physicians and use the knowledge and latest technology available to increase their chances of early detection.
In addition, many women find their own lumps before they show on mammogram, and should continue to perform breast self-exams, contact their physician if they find a lump, and be aware of timely methods of early detection.
The Mercy Cancer Network and Trinity Health, along with The American College of Radiology, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the American Society of Breast Disease and the American Cancer Society, support the current standards of annual mammography for women age 40 and older for breast cancer detection.
Terry O'Rourke, MD,
Chief Clinical Officer
Thomas Gribbin, MD,
Saint Mary's Health Care,
Randy Mudge, MD,
Battle Creek Health System
Phil Stella, MD,
Saint Joseph Mercy Health System
Mercy Cancer Network Steering Team Physicians
For more Information, please visit www.mercycancernetwork.org or www.trinity-health.org.