SJRA and The American Cancer Society Dispute USPSTF’S Position on MammographyPublished on November 18, 2009.
There is universal agreement that screening mammography saves lives. The disagreement lies in the estimates of how many lives are saved. The USPSTF considered only old data in its analysis and ignored more modern data that provides compelling evidence of a greater benefit from screening.
The USPSTF wants to lengthen the time between screening to two years for women ages 50 and over. Studies have shown that cancers are smaller and found at an earlier stage when screening is annual.
USPSTF recommends screening based on risk. Only 10-25% of breast cancers occur in high risk women. Not screening the others would miss 75-90% of breast cancers.
The USPSTF seems overly concerned with the harms of screening such as discomfort from mammography, anxiety from recall, ultrasound, and needle biopsy. The public has understood that mammography is not a perfect test, and has been willing to accept minor inconveniences in order to maximize the opportunity of finding a cancer earlier by screening.
Women should rely on the American Cancer Society (ACS) to advise them on the best screening regimen to reduce their risk of dying of breast cancer. The ACS considers all the evidence in making screening recommendations.