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Larry Weinstein, MD, F.A.C.S.
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Yearly Mammograms at 40...

Ob/Gyn group issues new guidelines recommending yearly mammograms starting at age 40

The CBS Evening News (7/20, story 6, 1:30, Mitchell) noted, "There's been a lot of conflicting advice about when women should start getting regular mammograms." CBS (LaPook) added, "Today the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued its guidelines: Annual mammograms starting at age 40, and self-exams for women at high risk for breast cancer. This organization joins a long list of other professional groups who disagree with a government panel's suggestion to wait until age 50." 

    CNN (7/21, Willingham) in its "The Chart" blog reports that the "previous ACOG guidelines recommended women have mammograms every one to two years, beginning at age 40 and then receive them every year, beginning at age 50." Their new guidelines are in stark contrast to the 2009 US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations, which suggested that women "in their 40s" who are not high-risk, do need routine yearly mammograms. ACOG authors "said the changes in the screening guidelines were based on three factors: the number of breast cancer cases reported in the US, the sojourn time, or how fast the tumor grows in young patients; and the potential to reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer by using breast screening."

    The Columbus (OH) Dispatch (7/21, Crane) notes that according to Dr. Jennifer Griffin, a "co-author of the college's practice bulletin and an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska," much of the evidence evaluated by ACOG "was the same" as that utilized by the USPSTF. Although the USPSTF recommendation "prompted some doctors to back off pushing for annual mammography for women in their 40s," it has not "created significant obstacles" to having mammograms covered: Patients on "Medicaid have coverage, as do most with private insurance."

    According to HealthDay (7/20, Salamon), the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging "said they supported the updated ACOG recommendations," noting that National Cancer Institute data "show the US breast cancer death rate -- previously unchanged for 50 years -- has dropped 37 percent since mammograms became widespread in 1990." Notably, the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network's screening recommendations are "identical to ACOG's new guidelines," while the NCI "calls for mammograms every one to two years beginning at age 40."

    Also covering the updated screening recommendations are the Boston Globe (7/21, Kotz), the San Francisco Chronicle (7/21, A11, Colliver), and WebMD (7/20, Boyles).

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