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Mammogram recommendation has negative effects

10:35 AM, May 2, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND --  Two new studies reveal that the United States Preventative Services Task Force's (USPSTF) recommendation to no longer screen women ages 40-49 for breast cancer using mammograms has begun to negatively affect the number of yearly mammograms performed in this age group and thus decrease the benefits of early detection.

Researchers at the University Hospitals at Case Medical Center conducted a retrospective review to determine the potential impact of forgoing screening mammograms in this patient population. Dr. Donna Plecha was very concerned for her patients.

"We know that when patients are screened earlier, they have a better prognosis for detection and treatment." says Dr. Donna Plecha.

In the study at the University Hospitals at Case Medical Center, out of the 524 biopsies performed, 108 cases of cancer were diagnosed. Cancers found in the 40-49-year-old patients who underwent screening mammography presented at a much earlier stage of breast cancer than those patients who did not have screening mammograms.

After the USPSTF delivered their recommendations in November 2009, researchers at the University of Colorado saw a significant drop in mammograms in women in the 40-49 age range.

"In the nine months after the guidelines, we saw 205 fewer women in the 40-49 age group than we did the previous year," says Dr. Lara Hardesty, lead researcher for this study.

Dr. Plecha believes that if primary physicians and patients begin following the USPSTF's guidelines, survival rates in this population will decline.

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