Jamie's Blog

Friday, February 5, 2010

Why I Still Recommend Mammograms

Last November the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force created a firestorm with the release of their new guidelines for breast cancer screening.  Here is a short and dirty summary of the controversial recommendations provided by The American College of Radiology:
·          AGAINST routine screening mammography in women age 40-49
·         AGAINST teaching breast self examination
·         AGAINST clinical breast examinations
·         AGAINST previously recommended routine screening for women 75 years or older
·         AGAINST annual screening mammograms for women age 50-74 (Recommending screening every OTHER year versus the currently recommended annual screening)
I don’t pretend to be a cancer expert, so even though my initial reaction was fury (do nothing before 50 or after 74?) and cynicism (could this be driven by insurance companies?), I decided to wait for the dust to settle and see how the real experts responded.  Below is a list of ten organizations so far who reject the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force new recommendations. (For the sake of brevity I list only the names and relevant quotes:  if you want the URLs I will provide them.)  By the way, if I had followed the new guidelines I would be dead: my first cancer appeared when I was 46.
  1. THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY is not changing our recommendations for breast cancer screening as a result of this report.  
  2. THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS Screening mammography every 1-2 years for women aged 40-49 years; every year for women age 50 or older 
  3. AMERICAN COLLEGE OF RADIOLOGY Detailed ACR Statement on Ill Advised and Dangerous USPSTF Mammography Recommendations  
  4. AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SURGEONS recommend women get a mammogram every year, starting at age 40.
  5. AVON FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN begin annual screening mammography at age 40, and continue annual screening mammography for as long as the woman is in good health  
  6. BREASTCANCER.ORG: we firmly recommend that women get annual routine screening mammograms starting at age 40.
  7. KOMEN FOR THE CURE wants to eliminate any impediments to regular mammography screening for women age 40 and older…
  8. MAYO CLINIC Mayo Clinic will continue to recommend screening mammograms for women age 40 and older. 
  9. NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE Women in their 40s and older should get a mammogram every 1 to 2 years.
  10. SOCIETY OF BREAST IMAGING Breast Cancer Screening Should Begin at Age 40.


  1. Great - thanks for this post. I, too, would be dead - aggressive cancer already spread to most lymph nodes, found by self-exam at 37. Because of self-exam, & a doctor who insisted on a mammogram, I'm still here (& healthy) almost 9yrs later.

  2. Wow, I am so glad you are still with us! Thanks for sharing your story. I started a special site for breast cancer support and would love if you joined me there. It will be interactive with other peeps touched by bc.
    Just click on the green N button on the top of my home page!

  3. I'd be close to dead. Diagnosed age 42 with aggressive Stage 3A breast cancer. Found via self exam... Mammo 10 mo earlier had been clear. Check your boobies! Ultrasound tech told me half of her BC patients are under 50.

  4. Oops make that age 43 ;) (trying to turn back time :)

  5. Good for you! I still recommend every kind of screening according; sort of a checks and balances plan.
    And I don't blame you for trying to turn back time: you prolly lost some time during the cancer fight!