Breast surgeons to as­sess value of mam­mo­grams for younger women

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Jaimy Lee

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.

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