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Patients Continue to Share Mammography Guidelines Frustration

March 31, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Many women, along with radiologists and other physician specialists, are still saying that they are frustrated, if not angered, by the guidelines issued in late 2009 by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that patients could safely begin to get mammographies after age 50, rather than age 40. And they are actively reacting accordingly.

In an article from Radiology Today by Beth W. Orenstein, women are indignant—and are telling their doctors and radiology techs so—that they might have developed cancer if their screenings, gotten at age 40, had not indicated they had tumors already. Many patients said they would continue to get annual mammographies, despite the guidelines. Some radiologists, seeing that their patients are making up their own minds, are not documenting a drop in screenings, but they are waiting to make pronouncements until after they see if the earlier mammographies remain covered by insurance.

Some women, though, may pass on the yearly tests, some practitioners say, using the USPSTF news as an excuse because they are afraid of being told that they actually have cancer or because of the brief pain of the exam.

Some doctors and their office staff are reminding their patients that the newest information isn’t necessarily the best. They are also asking them to notice from whence the parameters came, and that they did not come from the American Cancer Society, The Society of Breast Imaging or the ACR’s Breast Imaging Commission. These organizations still recommend that mammographies begin at age 40 for average risk patients and between the ages of 25-30 for high risk patients.

Carl D’Orsi, MD, FACR, and cochair of the ACR Breast Imaging Commission said, “It takes a long time to see the impact of changes in these kinds of protocols. When they do studies on the effectiveness of screening, you have to wait 10 to 15 years to get results.”

Related seminar: A Practical Approach to Breast Imaging and Digital Mammography


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