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Despite new recommendations, women in 40s continue to get routine mammograms at same rate
Date:5/15/2013

Women in their 40s continue to undergo routine breast cancer screenings despite national guidelines recommending otherwise, according to new Johns Hopkins research.

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) sifted through the evidence and recommended that while women ages 50-74 should continue to undergo mammograms every two years, those between the ages of 40 and 49 without a family history of breast cancer should discuss the risks and benefits of routine screening mammography with their physicians to make individual decisions.

As a result of the altered recommendations, Lauren D. Block, M.D., M.P.H., a clinical fellow in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and her colleagues expected to find fewer women in their 40s getting routine mammograms. Instead, they found no impact on mammography rates among younger women.

"Patients and likely their providers appear hesitant to change their behavior, even in light of evidence that routine screening in younger women carries substantial risk of false positives and unnecessary further imaging and biopsies," says Block, leader of a study published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. "Women have been bombarded with the message 'mammograms save lives,' so they want them no matter what."

That research has shown that mammography's impact on younger women is mixed at best: routine screening increases rates of detecting cancer in young women, but reduces mortality risk by a very small percentage. It is more likely, studies show, to result in over-diagnosis, and unnecessary treatment, including biopsies, lumpectomies and mastectomies, and weeks of radiation and potentially toxic drugs. False positives result in avoidable procedures and psychological trauma. Many of the cancers detected will probably never be dangerous, but are aggressively treated.

Among older women, screening mammogra
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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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