Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Mammogram Guidelines Contradict Controversial Recommendation

Two health organizations are issuing new mammogram guidelines that conflict with an earlier recommendation that suggests that women under 50 ought not undergo regular breast scanner screenings.

The new recommendations from the Society of Breast Imaging and the American College of Radiology are published in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology. They suggest that breast cancer screening should begin at age 40 and earlier in high-risk patients.

The recommendations also suggest appropriate utilization of medical imaging modalities such as mammography, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound for breast cancer screening.

“The significant decrease in breast cancer mortality, which amounts to nearly 30 percent since 1990, is a major medical success and is due largely to earlier detection of breast cancer through mammography screening,” said Dr. Carol H. Lee. “For women with the highest risk of developing breast cancer, screening technologies in addition to mammography have been adopted.”

According to the SBI and the ACR, the average patient should begin annual breast cancer screening at age 40. High-risk patients should begin by age 30 but not before 25. “Evidence to support the recommendation for regular periodic screening mammography comes from the results of several randomized trials conducted in Europe and North America that included a total of nearly 500,000 women," Lee said. According to Lee, screening reduced mortality due to breast cancer by 26 percent.

“It should be remembered that mammography is the only imaging modality that has been proven to decrease mortality from breast cancer. However major efforts continue to build on this success by developing additional methods to screen for early breast cancer,” she said.

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