Trinity Doctors Advocate No Change In Mammography Guidelines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 11, 2009
Contact: Mary Muhlbradt
(701)857-5116, Fax: (701)857-5683
mary.muhlbradt@trinityhealth.org

Trinity Doctors Advocate No Change In Mammography Guidelines

(MINOT, ND)—Doctors at Trinity Health say they will hold firm to current recommendations when it comes to screening for breast cancer. That, despite of a set of recommendations issued this week by a federal panel.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that women delay getting regular mammograms until age 50 instead of 40. The task force further recommended that women between ages 50 and 74 get screened every two years instead of annually, and that doctors no longer urge women to obtain clinical breast exams or conduct monthly self-exams.

Dr. Kenneth Keller, co-director of Trinity’s Department of Radiology, Dr. Kevin Collins, Chief of Medical Staff and a radiation oncologist, and Dr. Stephen Makoni, medical oncologist at Trinity’s CancerCare Center, said Trinity will reinforce use of the current guidelines outlined by breast cancer organizations like the American Cancer Society, BreastCancer.org, and the American College of Surgeons. Those guidelines include screening mammograms beginning at age 40 for women with normal risk of developing breast cancer, along with breast self-examination by patients and clinical breast exams by healthcare providers.

“The new USPSTF guidelines suggest a dramatic reversal in what has become widely accepted protocol for physicians and advocacy groups across the U.S. and here at Trinity Health,” Dr. Keller stated. “Trinity supports the conclusions of the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) regarding screening mammography. These guidelines are supported by decades of clinical research that clearly demonstrates a significant reduction in breast cancer mortality related to screening mammography for all women, regardless of age. And with today’s digital mammography and other techniques for breast cancer detection and treatment, the data is even stronger that screening mammography is a critical component of early detection.”

The case for screening mammograms using the ACS guidelines becomes clearer when examining local data: Over the past 11 years and 4 months, 879 women have been diagnosed at Trinity with breast cancer. Of those, 132 (15%) were in their 40’s and 232 (26%) were over 74 years of age. In many of those cases, mammograms played a critical role in their diagnosis.

“Denying women in those age groups the benefit of screening mammograms seems to be totally inappropriate,” Dr. Keller added.
Both the ACS and the ACR have announced that they will disregard the USPSTF-recommended guidelines and that they will continue to urge women to get a screening mammogram. Although there is no known cause of breast cancer, the best means of defense against this disease is early detection.