SOURCE: National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

November 18, 2009 12:00 ET

Despite U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. Will Continue to Recommend Mammograms for Women Under 50 and Breast Self-Exams

FRISCO, TX--(Marketwire - November 18, 2009) - The fight against breast cancer faces a new challenge as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced Monday their recommendation against routine screening mammography in women below the age of 50. The report also suggests there is little benefit to mammography screenings for women above the age of 75.

Although the study admits there is convincing evidence that mammogram screenings reduce breast cancer mortality, the USPSTF based their recommendation on the possibility that breast cancer screenings could result in psychological harm, unnecessary imaging tests and biopsies in women without cancer.

This report contradicts decades-long recommendations by breast cancer experts that women should begin routine mammography screening at age 40. In response to the report, the American Cancer Society, one of the world's foremost leaders in cancer research and studies, released a statement saying, "With its new recommendations, the Task Force is essentially telling women that mammography at age 40 to 49 save lives; just not enough of them."

This controversial stance by the USPSTF has jolted the medical community, as most breast cancer experts and doctors agree that mammography screening is currently the best method for detecting the disease early.

In addition to the mammography debate, the Task Force also recommends against teaching breast self-exams (BSE), a tool used for years to help women understand breast health and report suspicious or abnormal findings to a doctor.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. (NBCF), whose mission is to save lives through early detection and to provide mammograms for those in need, said today that they will continue to recommend annual mammogram screenings for women between the ages of 40 to 49. They will also continue to recommend breast self-exams as a detection method in conjunction with the advice of a qualified physician.

Janelle Hail, NBCF's Founder & CEO, expressed concern over the USPSTF's reversal of proven advances in early detection awareness over the past two decades.

"At 34 years old, I felt a lump while performing a breast self-exam. Concerned, I got a mammogram that detected breast cancer," says Hail. "If I had not had a breast self-exam and a mammogram, I would not be alive today and the National Breast Cancer Foundation would not exist."

Hail also said this recent recommendation by the USPSTF is dangerous because it suggests that women lay down their best weapon in the fight against breast cancer, which is early detection.

Many critics, including CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, agree.

"I have had this happen in my family. A family member with no family history, no risk factors to speak of, who caught breast cancer on routine mammography," said Dr. Gupta in a recent interview on Anderson Cooper 360. "So, I've seen it on a personal level as well."

Some critics are taking this report as an attempt to cut costs by proponents of health care reform.

The American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission released a statement, saying, "These new recommendations seem to reflect a conscious decision to ration care."

Whether the timing of this report has anything to do with trimming the contentious Affordable Health Care for America Act is uncertain. But, one thing is clear, women under the age of 50 that have been diagnosed with breast cancer will likely be strident opponents to these recommendations, and rightly so.

According to Hail, another concern for women is that their insurance company will adopt these recommendations as policy to avoid paying for mammography screenings. Most insurance coverage enables women to get mammograms starting at age 40. If insurance companies follow the recommendations of USPSTF, fewer women that have breast cancer will detect it early enough to prevent their death.

NBCF encourages women to sign-up for their Early Detection Plan at www.nbcf.org to create a tri-fold plan including: clinical breast exams, breast self-exams and mammograms.

About the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

NBCF was founded in 1991 by cancer survivor Janelle Hail. NBCF's mission is to save lives through early detection and to provide mammograms for those in need. NBCF provides Help for Today...Hope For Tomorrow® through an innovative online community, www.mynbcf.org, educational awareness programs, and free mammograms for women across the country. For more information about NBCF, visit www.nbcf.org.

Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Douglas Feil
    National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
    2600 Network Blvd. Suite 300
    Frisco, TX 75034
    Phone: 972.248.9200
    www.nbcf.org
    Email Contact

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