August 18, 2016
2 min read

USPSTF breast cancer screening recommendations ‘very similar’ to previous advice

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recent recommendation statement on breast cancer screening mammography is quite similar to the organization’s last recommendation statement in 2009, according to Haydee Ojeda-Fournier, MD, medical director of breast imaging at UC San Diego.

For this update, an independent volunteer panel conducted an in-depth review of the evidence that documented the possible benefits and harms of screening mammography.

Haydee Ojeda-Fournier

Haydee Ojeda-Fournier

The USPSTF’s current recommendations advise women aged 50 to 74 years to undergo biennial screening mammography.

The statement also suggests the decision to start screening mammography earlier than age 50 years should be made on an individual basis.

“They’re not recommending that women screen between ages 40 and 49, however in their guidelines they do state that this has to be an individual decision based on how the patient feels about screening, [as well as] what their family history is and if there’s any genetic factors that may indicate that they’re at high risk,” Ojeda-Fournier told HemOnc Today.

The USPSTF’s recommendation and a guideline released last year by the American Cancer Society have been criticized because they differ from recommendations issued by the American College of Radiology, the Society of Breast Imaging, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Ojeda-Fournier – who belongs to the American College of Radiology and is a member of the Society of Breast Imaging – said these organizations differ from the USPSTF because the other organizations recommend breast screening begin at age 40 years.

“The main controversy [with the recommendations] is that breast cancer happens in women of all ages, [with] the highest incidence [starting] when women are in their 50s to 60s.”

Ojeda-Fournier said she has recognized a growing problem and that the existence of several differing recommendations creates uneasiness in patients.

“There’s a lot of confusion with patients when they go into screening because one society is saying one thing, and another group is saying another thing and then the recommendations are, ‘if you want [to screen]’ or ‘if you don’t want,’” she said. “I’ve had many patients coming in that are very confused, asking, ‘what should I do’ and ‘when should I start.’” – by Ryan McDonald

Disclosure: Ojeda-Fournier reports no relevant financial disclosures.