Physicians oppose new mammogram guidelines

Three distinguished physicians — Susan Drossman, MD, a private practice breast radiologist; Elisa Port, MD, chief of breast surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York; and Emily Sonnenblick, MD, a breast radiologist at Mount Sinai's Dubin Breast Center — vehemently oppose the American Cancer Society's new guidelines for breast cancer screening.

The updated guidelines recommend women at average risk of developing breast cancer start regular annual mammograms at age 45 and move to screening every two years at age 55 until they have less than 10 years left to live. The change is meant to reduce false positives from over-screening.

However, as these three physicians wrote in an Op-Ed for The New York Times, they no longer wish to be involved with the cancer society based on these new guidelines. They wrote, "Mammography in all age groups, starting at 40 years old, is the only test that has been proven to do exactly this: reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer, by up to 30 percent."

Survival rates for breast cancer are the highest they have ever been, due in large part to mammography and treatment options, they said. Early detection by mammography helps women have less disfiguring surgeries and less aggressive treatment, which is also more cost effective.

They note false positives can be addressed with additional investigation, and the panel that developed the guidelines did not have a surgeon, radiologist or medical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer.

They say the guidelines have created more confusion and they will continue to recommend annual mammograms beginning at age 40.

Read the full essay here.


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