Most surgeons disregard US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) breast screening recommendation

TORONTO, CANADA—The vast majority of surgeons continue to recommend that women age 40 years or older with an average risk for breast cancer be screened annually for the disease, despite a 2009 US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation that such women be screened biennially beginning at age 50 years and continuing through age 74 years. These findings were presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting, in Toronto, Canada.

A team of researchers studying the efficacy of policy recommendations on practicing surgeons found that 88% of breast surgeons and 82% of general surgeons continue to recommend annual mammography for women with an average risk of developing breast cancer. An even greater percentage, 93%, reported that they began or would begin annual screenings for themselves at age 40 years. This high percentage shows the high level of personal conviction about screening mammography among surgeons.

"We found that the majority of surveyed breast surgeons advocate and personally follow the screening mammography recommendations of the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, and the Society of Breast Imaging, instead of those of the USPSTF," said coauthor Vilert Loving, MD, director of breast imaging at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The USPSTF guideline of biennial screening mammography between ages 50 and 74 years, which was published in 2009, was only advocated by 6% of surgeons for their patients and by 7% of surgeons for their family and friends.

Coauthors Jiyon Lee, MD, of New York University Cancer Institute and Elaine Tanaka, MD, of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and University of California San Diego School of Medicine added, "As we anticipate the USPSTF's impending guidelines this year, the public should know that the physicians who diagnose and treat women with breast cancer still believe in annual mammography starting at age 40 [years] for average-risk women."

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