Breast surgeons to assess value of mammograms for younger women
Physicians at the American Society of Breast Surgeons’ annual meeting in Las Vegas this week plan to develop guidelines for when and how often women should undergo mammograms to screen for breast cancer.
The issue has been high profile since 2009, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force made a controversial recommendation—not adopted by HHS for insurance-coverage policies—that women at average risk for breast cancer wait until age 50 to begin screening and then receive mammograms every other year after that. The task force said the net benefit of mammography for women between ages 40 and 49 is small and the potential harms outweigh the benefits. The American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society and other groups have urged women to continue to start annual screenings at age 40, a position supported by the breast surgeons.
The preventive services task force recently proposed a re-evaluation of the effectiveness of routine mammograms in women under 50.
“Our hope is that we can really look at the data and come up with a recommendation that makes sense for patients and primary-care providers,” said Dr. Jill Dietz, program chairwoman and a staff physician in the Cleveland Clinic’s department of breast services.
The breast surgeons’ society plans to hold a public session featuring skeptics and supporters of mammography for women under 50, as well as a closed-door meeting with breast-cancer experts. It aims to release mammogram recommendations this year.