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Research examines when benefits of screening mammography outweigh the harms for women in their 40s
Date:4/30/2012

says some groups might see this as a reason to recommend a baseline mammography.

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended mammography screening every other year for women aged 50 to 74 who have an average risk of developing the disease. The USPSTF concluded that for average risk women aged 40 to 49 years, biennial screening mammography offered a small benefit but considerable harms. Its findings were based in part on earlier research conducted by Mandelblatt and her colleagues.

This new study also finds small differences in benefits between film and digital mammography screening. However, digital mammography screening did result in substantially more false-positive results than film, and thus greater harm. The researchers say women would need to have at least a four-fold increase in risk of developing breast cancer to start screening at age 40 using digital mammography and still have the same balance of benefits and harms as average risk women aged 50 to 74, Mandelblatt explains.

Mandelblatt emphasizes that their research findings are based on models of the U.S. population and don't constitute a recommendation or advice for individual women, but rather provide new information for groups who make breast cancer screening guidelines.

"These results are not intended to guide clinical care, but to provide evidence to groups striving to individualize screening guidelines based on risk factors," she explains. "Ultimately, though, the decision of when to start screening and how often, and whether to have digital or film mammography should be left to women and their health care providers."

The new research resulted from the collaboration of and data from three national research groups the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC), Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) and the Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center.

Mandelblatt is an investigator with CISNET, wh
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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