SAN DIEGO – After extensive review of the proposed guidelines for breast cancer screening set forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on Nov. 17, 2009, the Scripps Breast Cancer Task Force recommends that women continue to follow the same “gold standard” screening mammography guidelines supported by the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiologists and the American College of Surgeons.
Those guidelines include:
- Monthly breast self-exams beginning at age 20
- Annual clinical breast exams with a physician or other health care practitioner
- Baseline mammogram at age 40 followed by annual screening mammograms
- Discussion of individual needs and concerns with a physician if a woman is at greater risk due to a personal or family history of the disease
“The recent USPSTF guidelines have created concern and confusion for Scripps patients and other women throughout the country,” says William Stanton, MD, chair of the Scripps Network Cancer Program. “We strongly urge our patients to address their individual needs and concerns directly with their physicians.”
The Scripps Breast Cancer Task Force acknowledges the additional financial cost for screening mammograms beginning at age 40 instead of 50. However, since 28 percent of women with newly diagnosed breast cancer at Scripps are under the age of 50, the Scripps Task Force weighs that cost against the number of lives that are potentially saved by beginning screening mammograms at age 40.
“We looked closely at these new findings and the methodology behind them, as we do all new research,” says Paul Goldfarb, MD, chair of the Scripps Breast Cancer Task Force. “Yet, we still believe that clinical breast exams coupled with annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40, give most women the best chance for detecting breast cancer in its earliest, most curable stage.”
Scripps will continue to review and evaluate new data on breast cancer detection as it becomes available. As always, Scripps will keep patients’ and women’s best interests at the forefront of any recommendations regarding screening mammograms or new methods of early detection of breast cancer.