Our Response to USPSTF Mammography Guidelines
There has been some confusion regarding the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) revised recommendations, (December, 2009) concerning mammography screening. The Radiologists at Breast Imaging would like to share our perspective on these recommendations and offer some helpful facts about the importance of mammography.
Radiologists generally agree that mammography is not a perfect examination. However, many scientific trials in the US and abroad have shown that screening mammography saves lives including among women aged 40-49. Since annual mammography screening began in 1990, the number of deaths from breast cancer has decreased 30%. According to the American Cancer Society, the most recent data show that approximately 18 % of breast cancers occurred in women who were diagnosed in their 40s and 22 % occurred in women diagnosed in their 50s. At our imaging center, women between the ages of 35-49 revealed biopsy-proven breast cancers in 14% of those women.
The risks or harms associated with mammography are small. Special care is taken during breast imaging examinations to use the lowest radiation dose possible while producing the best images for evaluation. National and international radiology protection councils continually review and update the technique standards used by radiology professionals. Most patients can have a biopsy if needed the same day as their mammogram to help minimize anxiety. In our experience, women prefer to be proactive and would rather undergo a biopsy that is negative for cancer than do nothing at all to monitor such an important aspect of their health.
Our biggest concern is that women who are ambivalent about mammography will decline screening if they have no obvious risk factors. We want to emphasize that 70% - 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no obvious risk factors. The number one risk factor for developing breast cancer is being a woman. The number two risk factor is growing older.
Breast Imaging agrees with the American Cancer Society guidelines. We encourage women to be aware of their breast health, understand the risks and continue to follow routine screenings beginning at age 40 unless earlier screening is indicated for higher risk women.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call us at (585) 487- 3300.