ACP Says Women Should Have Breast Screening Every 2 Years

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has recommended that women who have no breast cancer symptoms should do a breast cancer screening and a mammogram every two years.

They gave this recommendation based on some evidence gathered and it is directed to women between 50 and 74 years who may be considered to be at average risk. The recommendation was endorsed by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

ACP said these guidelines are the best combination for this group of women, which is where the majority of women fall. Here are the main points in the new recommendations:

  • For women between 40 and 49 years, doctors should discuss with the patient whether to screen or not. The conversation should include the woman’s preference and the benefits and harms of screening at that point, noting that the possible harms outweigh the benefits. The group includes those who have never been previously diagnosed with a high-risk tumor or breast cancer, have never received any radiation to the chest even in childhood, and those that have no genetic mutations predisposing them to breast cancer.
  • Doctors should offer a mammography biennially to women of average risk between 50 and 74 years.
  • In women of average risk aged 75 or more or women whose life expectancy is 10 or less years, screening should stop.
  • Average-risk women of all ages should not use a clinical breast cancer exam for breast cancer screening.

The guidelines, however, came under fire from the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and the American College of Radiology (ACR), with these two groups saying women should start at 40 years and have them annually for as long as they are in good health. From their deductions, the new guidelines could lead to the unnecessary death of up to 10,000 more women. ACP gave these guidelines after assessing the content and quality of seven breast cancer screening guidelines including those of USPSTF, ACR, ACS, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care and the World Health Organization.

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