CHICAGO - MAMMOGRAMS should begin at 40 for women with an average risk of breast cancer and by 30 for high-risk women, according to guidelines released on Monday by two groups that specialise in breast imaging, contradicting controversial guidelines from a US advisory panel last year.
The joint recommendations from the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging take into account the success of annual mammography screening starting at 40, said Dr Carol Lee of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, whose study appears in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.
'The significant decrease in breast cancer mortality, which amounts to nearly 30 per cent since 1990, is a major medical success and is due largely to earlier detection of breast cancer through mammography screening,' Dr Lee said in a statement.
The recommendations have been in the works for about two years, but they serve in part as a rebuttal to guidelines issued in November by the US Preventive Services Task Force, which recommended against routine breast mammograms for women in their 40s to spare them some of the worry and expense of extra tests to distinguish between cancer and harmless lumps.
Those recommendations contradicted years of messages about the need for routine breast cancer screening starting at age 40, sparking a rebellion from breast cancer specialists who argued the guidelines would confuse women and result in more deaths from breast cancer.
'Amidst all the furor, the ACR and the SBI stand firmly behind their recommendation that screening mammography should be performed annually beginning at age 40 for women at average risk for breast cancer,' Dr Lee and colleagues wrote. -- REUTERS