End the Confusion on Mammogram Screenings
By Norma E. Roth
In recent weeks, there has been a lot of confusion on when and how often women should have mammogram screening.
Dr. William F. Muhr, Jr., President of South Jersey Radiology, stated, “I’d like to end the confusion. Our position, based on long term studies, remains the same as always and is for the protection and futures of our patients. We ascribe to the very strong, very clear, and life-saving recommendations of the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) that women get yearly mammograms beginning at age 40.”
Dr. Muhr added, “A joint statement from ACR and SBI says the new American Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines, and previous data used by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to create their recommendations, state that starting annual mammography at age 40 saves the most lives.”
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has affirmed that mammography screening saves lives. The organization’s new screening guidelines has led to uncertainty on what women should do, but the facts haven’t changed. One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women. When detected early, breast cancer is the most treatable and the survival rate is greatly improved. This is confirmed by a recent study in the British Medical Journal, which shows early detection of breast cancer is critical for improving breast cancer survival, regardless of therapy advances.
More recent randomized control trials, particularly the largest (Hellquist et al) and longest running (Ta-bar et al) breast cancer screening studies in history, have reconfirmed that regular mammography screening cut breast cancer deaths by roughly a third in all women ages 40 and over, including women ages 40–49.
The new ACS guidelines show that women who want to reduce their risk of dying of breast cancer should choose annual mammogram screening starting at age 40. Debra Monticciolo, MD, FACR, Chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission, says in the ACR and SBI joint statement, “Moving away from annual screening of women ages 40 and older puts women’s lives at risk.”
So there you have it. Annual mammography screening should begin at age 40; high risk patients (those with a family history or who have a BRCA mutation) should be evaluated by their physician and perhaps begin screening earlier. South Jersey Radiology stands with the ACR and SBI, strongly encouraging women to obtain the maximum lifesaving benefits from mammography by continuing to get annual screening.
Be sure not to skip your annual screening. We know that mammograms save lives. For your convenience, our nine Women’s Imaging Centers offer early morning, late evening, and weekend appointments. Early detection is truly your best protection. Check our site at http://www.sjra.com/locations for hours and locations near your home or office. And simply click on the 24/7 Badge located at the top of our site to book your appointment instantly online!
About Norma E. Roth
Norma E. Roth, a breast cancer survivor, is a freelance journalist for health wellness and sustainable living. She is an advocate for annual mammography screening, believing early detection is the key to cancer survival. You can learn more about her at www.normaeroth.com.