"Over the last decade, in study after study, it has become very clear that apart from limited, specific high risk groups biennial screening is as effective as annual screening mammography," said Esserman. "At the same time, annual screening is associated with a greater likelihood of false positive results, which have an adverse impact on women's well-being and quality of life. From the viewpoint of women's health, the USPSTF screening recommendations make sense.
"We can go one step further and learn who is at risk for what kind of breast cancer, and over time, further tailor screening by adjusting the age to start and frequency as well as include recommendations for prevention," Esserman said.
Lead author Cristina O'Donoghue, MD, currently at the University of Illinois at Chicago but with UCSF at the time of the study, noted that the billions of dollars saved from avoiding less-effective mammography screening could be used to improve women's health.
"We could increase women's participation in screening, improve routine assessment of breast cancer risk and referral services for women at high risk, offer better genetic counseling for women with a family history of breast cancer and work on improving the quality of screening, with an emphasis on higher-quality mammography read by specialized mammographers," said O'Donoghue. "These would be only some of the potential benefits of using our health care resources more intelligently."
|Contact: Elizabeth Fernandez|
University of California - San Francisco