Are USPSTF Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Inadequate?

The Breast Center recommends that women receive a screening mammogram every year starting at age 40. Women are sometimes confused about when they should start annual mammograms because of conflicting recommendations, however. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), for example, recommends that women at average risk begin screening at age 50. A recent study suggests that this USPSTF breast cancer screening guidelines may not be adequate, specifically for nonwhite female patients.

USPSTF guidelines may use a narrow lens

The authors of the study believe that USPSTF breast cancer screening recommendations, “may not be sensitive to racial differences and may be inappropriately extrapolating data from largely white populations for use in racially diverse populations”. The concern here is that these guidelines may result in underscreening for nonwhite female patients, putting them at higher risk.

The study examined 747,000 breast cancer cases from 1973 to 2010, and found that nonwhite patients were more likely than white patients to be diagnosed with breast cancer younger than the age of 50. The authors of the study concluded, “Current USPSTF breast cancer screening recommendations do not reflect age-specific patterns based on race.

Talk to your doctor about breast cancer screenings

The American Medical Association, the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, the Society for Breast Imaging, the National Cancer Institute, and the Breast Center all recommend annual screening mammograms starting at age 40.

Screening mammograms greatly improve breast cancer survival rates. Mammography helps detect cancer when it is still in its early stages. This is when breast cancer is most treatable. The longer breast cancer develops, the more difficult it is to treat.

The study highlights the importance of taking personal risk factors, such as ethnicity, into account when considering breast cancer screening options. While the Breast Center recommends annual screening mammograms starting at age 40, your risk factors influence the screening plan that’s right for you. Talk to your doctor, or contact the Breast Center for a personalized risk assessment today.

Current patients can access the Breast Center Patient Portal.