Mammograms are an important part of breast cancer surveillance for women. A mammogram, however, can have a “false positive” result – that is the mammogram is read by a Radiologist as worrisome for cancer, but after further testing and even surgery, there is found to be no evidence of a problem. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force proposed revised guidelines to traditional mammogram recommendation which resulted in significant controversy over the risk of missing a breast cancer versus unnecessary testing and procedures versus health system wide cost savings. The American Cancer Society (ACS) then proposed its updated recommendations for mammograms which appear to be more accepted by the healthcare community. These guidelines are presented below. As with all guidelines, these are recommendations and not rules. What is best for each woman should be determined by her primary care physician, breast specialist, and the patient herself.
For women aged 40-44, ACS suggests that annual mammography should be available, but is not recommended, because the benefits of annual mammography are outweighed by the potential risks of overdiagnosis in that age group, and do not have a marked benefit in terms of reducing mortality from breast cancer. (considered for 44 and younger with strong FH or suspicious mass – MDW)
For women 45-54, ACS recommends annual mammography.
For women 55-74, ACS recommends biennial (every other year) screening.
For women 74 and older, ACS suggests a choice for continued mammography screenings based on their general health, co-morbidities (other illnesses) and life expectancy.
Mark D. Wigod, MD, FACS, providing Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery to Boise, Meridian, Treasure Valley and Southeastern Idaho.