New Mammogram Guidelines

Posted on: October 26, 2015

On October 20th, 2015 the American Cancer Society updated their recommendations for early detection of breast cancer. You can read their guidelines for screening to detect cancers here. Dr. Tiffany Svahn, a breast cancer specialist with Diablo Valley Oncology commented on these new recommendations.

“Last week, the American Cancer Society changed their guidelines on screening mammograms.  The guidelines now recommend waiting until age 45 to begin yearly mammograms.  Mammograms should be available to women ages 40-44, but the decision should be individualized and discussed with a woman’s healthcare provider. They also recommended that women age 55 and older have their mammograms every other year, but that yearly mammograms should be available if decided upon between the patient and their healthcare provider.  It is important to note that these guidelines apply only to women with average risk of breast cancer.  Women with a higher risk of breast cancer follow different screening protocols. 

The American Cancer Society is one of several organizations that makes recommendations about screening mammography.  The American College of Radiology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network have not changed their recommendations for yearly screening mammograms beginning at age 40.  There is concern that the recent change in the American Cancer Society’s guidelines is going to cause confusion for women and their healthcare providers.  The Society changed its recommendations based on the lower rates of breast cancer in women less than 45, and the high rate of callback for false positive results.  However, many women would prefer to have more callbacks in order to feel confident that they are being screened for breast cancer.  Newer imaging technology, such as breast tomosynthesis, will help improve detection rates of cancer while lowering the rates of false positive results.  All of the societies who make recommendations for screening will continue to evaluate the data and technologies and update their guidelines as appropriate.  

At this time, our practice continues to recommend yearly screening mammograms beginning at age 40, in keeping with the guidelines of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American College of Radiology.”