VALUE OF SCREENING MAMMOGRAPHY
Screening mammography is controversial in women 40 to 50 years of age. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’ composed of primary care physicians and epidemiologists, recommended in 2009 screening mammography in women to begin at age 50 and to continue every two years until age 74. However, the American Cancer Society and other professional groups recommend annual screening beginning at age 40. Recently, investigators from Boston evaluated mammographic histories and the cause of death in women with breast cancer. Their study concluded that regular mammography screening of women less than 50 years of age resulted in lower breast cancer mortality. Although persuasive, this and other articles cause confusion due to their limitations. For example, no information was provided about the treatment each group received. Unscreened women are less likely to seek medical attention in a timely fashion. Variables must be clearly addressed in any study in order to validate their conclusions. Because of inconclusive evidence, women of average-risk in the U. S. understandably continue to get mammograms starting in their 40s.
Ivan Turpin, MD