In the News
Yearly Mammograms Are Still the Standard
An article released by
MSNBC states that breast mammograms have
contributed significantly to reducing deaths from
When the U.S. Preventive
Services Task Force (USPTF) released new recommendations for breast
cancer screening guidelines in 2009, they were met with a lot of
opposition from breast cancer experts and advocacy
groups.not need routine mammograms, and
women in their 50s should get mammograms every other year, as
opposed to every year.
The Task Force's
guidelines suggested that women in their 40s did
not need routine mammograms, and women in their 50s
should get mammograms every other year, as opposed to every year.
"These guidelines contradicted years of messages about the need for
routine breast cancer screening starting at age 40," stated Dr.
Darlene Weyer, radiologist. "Yearly mammograms are proven to save
The Task Force's recommendations were
intended to spare women the worry and expense of extra
Researchers at the University of Colorado and the University of
Michigan studied the same risk models that were used by
the Task Force and they were able to conclude that more frequent
mammograms save more lives.
In the newest research, doctors found that annual mammograms
starting at age 40 save 65,000 more women from breast cancer than
mammograms done every other year for women 50 and older. Doctors
from the University of Michigan discovered that women 40 and older
who get yearly mammograms, reduce the risk of dying from breast
cancer by 71 percent. If women followed the Task
Force's recommedations they would only be
reducing their risk by 23 percent.
Researchers stated that the Task Force's guidelines for fewer
breast screenings would confuse women and ultimately result in more
deaths from breast cancer. Many cancer experts, including the
American Cancer Society, have never strayed from their
long-standing recommendations of a yearly breast exam for women 40
and older, stating that mammograms have been proven to save lives
by spotting tumors early, when they are the easiest to treat.
"An unfortunate thing in medicine has
occurred. We take a step forward in medicine, and the task force
takes two steps back," stated Weyer. "Sufficient evidence, our
medical knowledge, and common sense says to do mammograms every
year starting at age 40, and the task force states to not start
mammograms until age 50, every other year. This will allow the
cancer to grow, potentially spreading, causing change in prognosis
and treatment plan and will lead to more deaths."
Breast cancer is the second-leading
cause of death among U.S. women, after lung cancer. It kills
500,000 people globally every year and is diagnosed in close to 1.3
million people around the world.
Darlene Weyer, D.O., is the
medical director of the Women's Health Center at Lima
Memorial and is a breast imaging specialist.