On November 16, 2009, a government appointed expert panel, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), released new breast cancer screening recommendations which have caused a great deal of controversy – and confusion — among experts and the general public.
The USPSTF recommendations call for a departure from current guidelines, including: women should begin routine breast cancer screenings at age 50, rather than 40, and women between the ages of 50 and 74 should have mammograms every two years, instead of every year.
The American Cancer Society, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Radiology have all stressed that they will continue to recommend women begin routine annual mammography screenings at age 40 (see links to their statements below). And a growing number of medical centers are issuing statements that they also will continue with current practices.
UVA Medical Center also will continue to follow current recommendations that women 40 and older should have a routine mammography screening every year. And women under 40 with risk factors should consult their physician as to when to start screening.
Mammograms are a critical screening tool in detecting breast cancer as early as possible — early detection saves lives every day. We encourage all women to continue following your routine health care practices and to continue an on-going dialogue between patients and providers to determine the best course of action for each individual.
Jonathon Dean Truwit, M.D. Chief Medical Officer Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs
Alan Matsumoto, M.D. Chair, Radiology
Statements in response to the Task Force’s new recommendations:
American Cancer Society American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists American College of Radiology U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius