Mammography standard backed

The Scripps Breast Cancer Task Force recently took a close look at proposed guidelines for mammography screenings and supports what it calls the “gold standard” supported by the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiologists and the American College of Surgeons.

Those guidelines include:

-Monthly breast self-exams beginning at age 20.

-Annual clinical breast exams with a physician or other health care practitioner.

-Baseline mammogram at age 40 followed by annual screening mammograms.

-Discussion of individual needs and concerns with a physician if a woman is at greater risk due to a personal or family history of the disease.

In a news release, William Stanton, M.D., chairman of the Scripps Network Cancer Program, stated that “the recent (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) guidelines have created concern and confusion for Scripps patients and other women throughout the country. We strongly urge our patients to address their individual needs and concerns directly with their physicians.”

While the Scripps group acknowledged the additional financial cost for screening mammograms beginning at age 40 instead of 50, they noted that 28 percent of women with newly diagnosed breast cancer at Scripps are under age 50. They weighed “that cost against the number of lives that are potentially saved by beginning screening mammograms at age 40,” the news release noted.