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Task Force Member Defends Mammography Guidelines
Date:11/19/2009

id, "is one of the best things they did." At her clinic, Kerlikowske said, biennial screening has been a standard for years.

A Gynecologist's View

Gynecologist Judi Chervenak, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics-gynecology and women's health at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said she will tell her patients this: "From age 39 on, a woman should have a yearly visit to her health-care provider, during which she discusses which routine tests are appropriate for her, including mammography."

But, she also said she favors mammography for many women.

"Unless the patient is at increased risk of radiation exposure or increased mental health stress of dealing with a false-positive test, I still feel that the use of the mammogram is a potentially lifesaving and quality-of-life improving test for many women," Chervenak said.

"We know that mammography often picks up a cancer before it can be palpated," she said. "We have to do everything we can to maintain our quality of life."

A Family Physician's View

A woman should remember that the guidelines are based on the entire population and that her own decision must be an individual one, said Dr. David Baron, a family physician and chief of staff at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., and an assistant clinical professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"That's why communication between a patient and her health-care professional is very important," Baron said.

The new guidelines, in his view, are encouraging physicians to individualize the screenings.

"Some of this will depend on how risk-adverse a woman is," Baron said. A 40-year-old woman, for instance, might be afraid of radiation from a mammogram and be at average risk for breast cancer. No
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