July 9, 2012 — Preventive mammography rates in women in their 40s have dropped nearly 6 percent nationwide since the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against routine mammograms for women in this age group, a Mayo Clinic analysis shows. That represents a small but significant decrease since the controversial guidelines were released, the researchers say. Their findings are being presented at the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, June 24 to 26, in Orlando, Fla.
Using a large, national representative database of 100 health plans, researchers identified the number of screening mammograms performed between January 2006 and December 2010, and compared rates before and after the task force report. Nearly 8 million women ages 40 to 64 were included in the analysis.
Comparing mammography rates before and after publication of the new guidelines, researchers found that the recommendations were associated with a 5.72 percent decrease in the mammography rate for women ages 40 to 49. Over a year, nearly 54,000 fewer mammograms were performed in this age group.
Mammography Screening: What Mayo Clinic Recommends
Mayo Clinic continues to recommend an annual screening mammogram beginning at age 40, in line with recommendations from the American Cancer Society. Mayo uses a three-tiered approach:
* Breast health awareness, which includes a woman becoming familiar with her breasts to identify breast abnormalities or changes and to inform her doctor of any changes that may need further evaluation.
* A clinical breast exam performed by a health care provider and recommended annually beginning at age 40.
* Screening mammography beginning at age 40.
Screening mammograms can detect breast abnormalities early in women in their 40s. Findings from a large study in Sweden of more than 1 million women in their 40s who received screening mammograms showed a 29 percent decline in breast cancer deaths.
For more information: www.mayoclinic.org