changes in mammogram screening – here we go again

As a follow up to my post yesterday on dense breasts, the US Preventative Services Task Force issued draft recommendations on Monday for mammogram screening.

The panel recommended that while routine screening brings little benefit to women in their 40’s, routine screening should begin at age 50 and occur every two years.  Screening at age 40 is a personal choice, should be determined based on a woman’s risk, and that women should weigh the pros and cons of screening in concert with their physician.  Furthermore, the panel stated that there was no evidence to suggest that women with dense breasts need extra testing.

The draft is largely a rewording of the controversial 2009 recommendations that questioned the usefulness of mammograms in the 40s.  Compared with biennial mammograms for average-risk women, starting at age 40 instead of 50 could prevent one additional death but lead to 576 more false alarms for every 1,000 women screened. Age aside, the report from the US Preventative Services Task Force estimated nearly 1 in 5 women whose tumor was detected by a screening mammogram may be overdiagnosed.

In other news, the American Cancer Society currently is updating its own mammography guidelines, due out later this year, to include the latest evidence on age questions.

Monday’s task force recommendation is a draft open for public comment through May 18, at


About justgngr

the ramblings of a medical professional by day, judgmental ginger by night
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