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Ask Dr. Nandi: Breast surgeons' group issues new mammogram guidelines

Posted: 5:51 PM, May 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-07 13:59:03-04

(WXYZ) — New mammogram screening guidelines have been issued, this time from a breast surgeons’ group. These guidelines are very different from what the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have recommended.

These recommendations come from the primary leadership organization for surgeons who treat breast disease – and that’s the American Society of Breast Surgeons. Day after day, they are on the front lines and see firsthand how early screening can save lives.

So what is this group recommending? First of all, they would like all women to have a formal breast cancer risk assessment by age 25. Then if a woman is found to have an average risk, this group recommends yearly screenings starting at the age of 40. If it’s determined a woman has a predicted lifetime breast cancer risk of 20 percent or higher, then mammogram screening along with MRI imaging if needed are recommended to start at the age of 35. And for women with a higher risk due to hereditary susceptibility genes, then annual MRI’s can begin at age 25, followed by annual mammograms at age 30.

It’s because a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. The age for mammograms was revised about 10 years ago by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force because of false positives results and the potential for unnecessary anxiety, pain and complications from additional testing.

But the American Society of Breast Surgeons prefers to look at an individual’s risk assessment and then make recommendations based on that. And this hopefully will help a subset of women who are more likely to die of breast cancer due to later screenings.

The Breast Surgeons’ group says that routine screening for women age 40 to 49 has shown to reduce deaths by 15 percent. And that makes a lot of sense because we know when breast cancer is caught early, you increase the odds of a woman successfully beating it.