Government Offers New Guidelines for Mammograms

by Emily Baird on November 17, 2009 at 6:58 am

The US Preventative Services Task Force is recommending new guidelines that is shaking up the breast cancer community. It says women under the age of 50 do not need to get mammograms and women do not need to conduct self-breast exams.

Genesis Radiologist, Dr. Coleene Cooke, says these guidelines are not directed toward women who have a higher risk for breast cancer.

"Perhaps they have a pre-disposition or they have a history, these women are out of this category. They need to be screened early, some even before 40. Some need to be screened even more frequently with an MRI in addition to mammography, " says Cooke.

Members of the US Preventative Services Task Force are appointed by the goverment. Cooke says they consist solely of family physicians and no radiologists.

Their mission was to see how much money is being spent on these screenings and if they are effecient.

"A women 40-49 could have to assess are you willing to understand that you will have a higher probability of having a false positive mammogram. You’re going to have to come in. You’re going to have to get extra pictures. You may have a biopsy, and it says it’s not cancer. You had to go through all that aggregation. The committee is saying that is a lot of cost to do that. So, society has to weigh that also. What is the cost of saving one life versus screening, " says Cooke.

The American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology are not supporting these new guidelines. They are still recommending women 40 and older receive regular mammograms.