A Closer Look at Mammography Screening Guidelines & Ways You Can Protect Yourself

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A Closer Look at Mammography Screening Guidelines

Photo by Gisela Giardino

Submitted by MemorialCare Breast Center at Long Beach Memorial

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) – a panel of non-Federal professionals in the field of prevention and evidence-based medicine, which reviews clinical preventative health care services and provides recommendations – released recommendations and guidelines that advise biannual mammogram for women ages 50-74.

However, the MemorialCare Breast Center would strongly encourage that women get annual mammograms beginning at age 40. In fact, at Long Beach Memorial and Orange Coast Memorial, women in the 40 to 49 age range account for 20 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer. By refraining from mammography screenings until age 50, approximately 20 percent of women with breast cancer would likely be diagnosed with more advanced stages.

Homayoon Sanati, M.D., medical director, MemorialCare Breast Center, Long Beach Memorial, Orange Coast Memorial expresses deep concern with the 2009 USPSTF breast screening guidelines. “In one day alone, I saw three female patients in their early 40s, who were diagnosed with breast cancer. This concept of ‘one-size fits all’ just doesn’t work when it comes to somebody’s health.”

Additionally, Dr. Sanati suggests no age limit for mammography screenings. The American Cancer Society also recommends beginning annual mammograms at age 40 and continuing as long as the woman is in good health. A study from the American Journal of Roentology shows that the greatest benefit for screening mammography is 40-84, which would save 71% more lives than screening ages 50-74. Breast awareness and screening is the key for diagnosing breast cancer at early stages and improving the outcomes.

Dr. Sanati says, “The improvement in survival from mammography is seen from registry data in most countries about five years after implementation of screening mammography. For this reason, it is recommended that any older woman who is expected to live more than five years can benefit from screening mammography.” Dr. Sanati recommends an annual clinical breast exam starting at age 20, every three years, and annually after age 40.

An early mammography as well as MRIs may be necessary in women with strong family histories of breast cancer or high risk lesions proven from a biopsy. Early detection for breast cancer is critical. MemorialCare Breast Center at Long Beach Memorial Breast Program houses digital, state-of-the-art technology for mammography screening, which makes a world of difference in breast cancer prevention and care.

To make an appointment, call 562-933-7880 or visit www.memorialcare.org/breastcare.

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