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New Canadian Guidelines Also Support No Routine Mammograms Until 50
Date:11/21/2011

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care on Monday issued new recommendations on breast cancer screening, and they're similar to controversial guidelines issued in 2009 by a U.S. governmental panel.

As the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended two years ago, the government-appointed Canadian panel of experts is also suggesting that women aged 40 to 49 who are at average risk for breast cancer not get routine mammograms.

The Canadian task force has also dropped recommendations for breast self-exams and clinical exams for women with no symptoms.

The new guidelines, replacing those issued in 2001, are for women at average risk of breast cancer only. The new guidelines also recommend longer mammogram screening intervals for women aged 50 to 74 -- to once every two or three years. Previous guidelines had recommended mammograms once every two years for women aged 50 to 69 and did not address women aged 70 to 74.

The earlier guidelines had said women between 40 and 49 could be screened, but they were not to be actively recruited for screening, noted Patrice Lindsay, an expert in "best practices" for medical care and an appointed member of the Canadian task force.

According to Lindsay, "there has been a considerable amount of evidence out over the past few years looking at the benefits and harms of screening practices. The evidence really doesn't support more frequent screening in terms of having an impact on the outcome." The outcomes considered, she said, are a diagnosis of breast cancer and breast cancer death.

The guidelines are published Nov. 21 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The new guidelines may rekindle the debate on mammography among experts in the United States.

"I believe the U.S. and Canada recommendations have much in common," said Dr. Michael LeFe
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