In a major shift, the American Cancer Society is recommending that women at average risk of breast cancer get annual mammograms starting at age 45 rather than at age 40, and that women 55 and older scale back screening to every other year. The new guidelines, published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), fall more closely in line with guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government-backed panel of experts that recommend biennial breast cancer screening starting at age 50 for most women.
The USPSTF 2009 recommendations to reduce the frequency and delay the start of mammogram screening were based on studies suggesting the benefits of detecting cancers earlier did not outweigh the risk of false positive results, which needlessly expose women to additional testing, including a possible biopsy.
“Since the last ACS breast cancer screening update for average-risk women was published in 2003, new evidence has accumulated from long-term follow-up of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies of organized, population-based screening (service screening) programs,” the ACS wrote. “In addition, there is now greater emphasis on estimating harms associated with screening.” So the ACS thought it best to organize an interdisciplinary development group to update the 2003 guidelines.
To access the JAMA publication please go to http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2463258