In light of the recent U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) Recommendation Statement regarding screening for breast cancer, SSM Health Breast Care wants to clarify our recommendations.
SSM Health Breast Care continues to advocate the guidelines endorsed by the American Cancer Society. These guidelines include:
- Annual screening mammography beginning at age 40 for average risk women
- Annual clinical breast exam
- Monthly breast self examination
Continued adherence to these guidelines is being endorsed by:
From the Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, “The USPSTF says that screening 1,339 women in their 50s to save one life makes screening worthwhile in that age group. Yet USPSTF also says screening 1,904 women ages 40-49 in order to save one life is not worthwhile. The American Cancer Society feels that in both cases, the lifesaving benefits of screening outweigh any potential harms.”
The public knows that screening mammography is not perfect, but has been proven to save lives. The mortality reduction in screened women aged 40-49 is 15%, the same as that for women 50-59. The difference is that the incidence of breast cancer in the younger age group is lower, so more women need to be screened to have the benefit. The USPSTF seems overly concerned with the harms of screening such as anxiety regarding callbacks for additional imaging, discomfort of the mammogram itself, and needle biopsies. We believe that the benefits of identifying breast cancers at earlier stages are worth these potential harms.
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