• By Dennis Douda

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Revised

October 20, 2015

woman having a mammogram, checking for breast cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has updated its recommendations for breast cancer screening for women at average risk of the disease. The recommendations strongly support the value of mammograms and provide some further direction for women at both ends of the age spectrum.

Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., a Breast Clinic physician and Mayo Clinic Cancer Center researcher says,"This is an important paper and we are pleased that ACS has paid attention to and respected patient preferences and values in its recommendation. While the ACS now recommends annual screening mammograms for women who have no risk factors at age 45, it did recommend that women age 40 and up still receive an annual screening mammograms if they choose to seek screening. This shared-decision making approach between a patient and her provider is something we support at Mayo Clinic. Overall, the new ACS recommendations reaffirm that screening mammography for women in their 40s is associated with a decrease in breast cancer deaths."

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer among women and the second deadliest cancer for women, surpassed only by lung cancer. More than 230,000 women in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

The new guidelines were just released in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). Among the key updates by age:

  • 40-44 Should have opportunity for annual mammograms
  • 45+     Strongly recommend regular mammogram screening
  • 45-54  Annual mammogram screening
  • 55+     Mammograms every two years/annual opportunity
  • 70+     Mammograms for those in good health

Dr. Pruthi says, “So, we have been recommending for years that women in their forties be screened annually with mammogram. So, it’s nice to have the American Cancer Society support what we’ve been telling patients at Mayo Clinic.”

Dr. Pruthi does say she was surprised, however, that the ACS no longer recommends clinical breast exams by physicians for women of average risk. "One surprising part of the recommendation was that ACS no longer supports annual clinical breast exams. We know that mammograms can miss detecting a breast cancer due to the presence of very dense breast tissue. Clinical breast exams conducted by providers can improve the opportunity to detect breast cancers or abnormalities early.  Women are encouraged to be aware of breast changes and bring this to the attention of their providers promptly for evaluation."

Journalists: Broadcast quality sound bites are available in the downloads. Mammogram b-roll is also available. Click here for a transcript of Dr. Pruthi's comments, .

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