SEATTLE, Nov. 17, 2009 -- Upending one of the most widely followed medical directives for women, an influential panel of experts is recommending that women 50 and older get screened for breast cancer only once every two years and that most women in their 40s skip the test altogether.
The panel also concludes that breast self-exams -- a drill that women for decades have been told to perform each month -- do not reduce mortality from breast cancer, but instead lead to more biopsies producing results that are benign.
The new guidelines, published online yesterday in The Annals of Internal Medicine, go against long-standing recommendations from cancer groups, radiologists and other experts that women get annual mammograms starting at age 40.
The American Cancer Society, for one, is sticking to its current recommendations, disagreeing with the national panel's conclusion that for the younger women, potential harm from routine screening outweighs the benefits.
Swedish Cancer Institute Breast Program's Position on this Issue
Until there is clear research indicating otherwise, Swedish Cancer Institute Breast Program will continue to support the American Cancer Society guidelines, which recommend that women begin annual breast screening via mammography at age 40. Swedish Cancer Institute Breast Program also encourages women to discuss any concerns about breast screening with their primary-care providers.
Links to Related Information, Various Opinions
In a continuing effort to help inform and educate women about this important topic, here are links to related information and various opinions on these new recommendations from various expert sources:
- American Cancer Society (ACS) news release, 'ACS Responds to Changes to USPSTF Mammography Guidelines.'
- Susan G. Komen For The Cure statement, 'Making Sense of New Mammography Recommendations.'
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius statement, 'New Breast Cancer Recommendations.'
- American College of Radiology news release, 'USPSTF Mammography Recommendations Will Result in Countless Unnecessary Breast Cancer Deaths Each Year.'
- American College of Radiology talking points, 'Detailed ACR Statement on Ill Advised and Dangerous USPSTF Mammography Recommendations.'
- Society of Breast Imaging statement, 'Society of Breast Imaging Responds to US Preventive Services Task Force Statement.'
- American Society of Breast Surgeons statement, 'Society Responds to USPSTF Changes in Mammography Guidelines.'
- American Society of Breast Disease statement, 'Mammography Saves Lives: Breast Cancer Specialists Endorse Annual Mammograms for Women Over 40.'
- Editorial posted Nov. 20 on The Seattle Times' Web site titled 'The mammogram debate.'