CRL Stands by Annual Screening Mammography at age 40, despite recent recommended changes

The trusted, premiere radiology practice’s breast imaging lead speaks out on the new guidelines stating women should wait until age 45 for annual exams.

MINNEAPOLIS, November 6th, 2015 – Consulting Radiologists, Ltd.’s (CRL) lead breast imaging radiologist, Dr. Lisa Schneider, who is also Medical Director of Piper Breast Center, released a statement in regard to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) recent guideline change on screening mammography.

“Last week the American Cancer Society changed its recommendations regarding the age screening mammography should commence,” Dr. Schneider stated.

Dr. Schneider is referring to the recent guideline change by the ACS stating screening mammography exams should be optional from ages 40 to 45. They state the annual exams should not be required until age 45.

Schneider spoke on the recommendation change stating that the American College of Radiology (ACR), Society of Breast Imaging (SBI), and the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) are still recommending that annual screening mammography begin at age 40.

“We in the CRL breast imaging section still support screening mammography starting at age 40.”

Many have taken to the media recently regarding this change stating that early detection saved their lives.

“The death rate from breast cancer has declined 30-35% in the US since screening mammography was initially introduced into the US population,” Dr. Schneider said.

She went on to state that the false positive rates for screening mammography are 10 percent or less nationwide, and many false positives are cleared up with supplemental images.

CRL’s data reflects that very few women go on to biopsy.

“So the “harms” of screening are negligible,” Dr. Schneider stated.

The American Cancer Society in addressing their new assessment stated that women have been getting screened too early, and sometimes, too frequently.

The new ACS guidelines have further caused confusion for patients in that the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) also clarified its guidelines this past April, stating mammograms should begin at age 50 and continue every other year. They went on to say that women under 45 should coordinate decisions on earlier screenings with their doctors.

The NBC News released an article saying, “The debate has become so heated at times that Congress passed legislation overriding the USPSTF guidelines, which are used as the basis for government health insurance policies.”

The Journal of the American Medical Association published several studies based on the new recommendations. One of these studies found that when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause, the tumors often tend to be faster growing.

Dr. Schneider also stands by this.

“Studies have shown us 25% of all breast cancer occurs in women 40-49.  If you are not screening to catch more cancers earlier, you are potentially subjecting these patients to more aggressive treatment. They may miss the window of opportunity for cure.  More aggressive treatment is costly and painful.”

Despite the new findings by the ACS, the majority of medical societies supported by CRL and the ACR still recommend age 40. CRL strongly recommends that it is better to start earlier than age 45.

For further information, the ACR has released a bulletin for patients and clinicians titled End The Confusion, to combat this confusion and allow patients and doctors alike to decide when they should have their annual mammogram.

Breast Cancer remains the second leading cause of death among women in the United States.



Helpful Links/Articles:

The Society of Breast Imaging’s Campaign: End the Confusion

Screening facts: SBI’s Myths and Facts

CBS News: Leading doctors push back on new ACS mammogram guidelines

NY Times: American Cancer Society, in a Shift, Recommends Fewer Mammograms

Forbes: What the ACS Guidelines got wrong about Breast Cancer Screening