In 2009, new mammogram guidelines were issued by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), recommending that mammograms be given only once every two years. Further, these only advised routine testing for women between the ages 50-74. Now, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has released contrasting recommendations that providers not only offer mammograms to women annually, but to women as young as 40. According to ACOG, breast cancer, second only to skin cancer in women, tends to grow faster in younger women than in older women. The earlier tumors are identified, the less likely they are to spread, and the more likely they are to be treated successfully.
Part of the rationale behind the USPSTF’s opposition to routine mammograms in women under 50 was to decrease radiation exposure and to avoid unwarranted anxiety or surgical procedures from false positives. ACOG, while recognizing that not having mammograms every year may be more economical, believes that the true costs might be greater than what comes out of someone’s pocket.
At Cornerstone Private Practice, we believe that deciding when and how often to obtain mammograms is a choice that should grow out of a two-way dialogue with your doctor. Balancing the importance of limiting radiation exposure, anxiety, and possible surgical interventions versus the benefit of detecting breast cancer sooner is a personal decision best made in the context of a trusted doctor-patient relationship. (Photo from digitalart)