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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

American Cancer Society Revises Its Mammogram Guidelines

News that the American Cancer Society (ACS) has revised its mammogram guidelines received extensive coverage, with all three of last night’s national news broadcasts covering the story, for a total of nearly nine minutes of coverage. The story also generated extensive coverage in print and online, with nearly every major US newspaper, website and wire offering coverage. Much of the coverage focuses on the differences between mammogram guidelines from different groups, and how these differences could lead to confusion among women. Many of the articles highlight that the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging continue to recommend that women begin annual mammograms at age 40. 

Listen: Dr. Murray Rebner addresses the ACS guidelines on the Paul W. Smith Show: The Society of Breast Imaging's Immediate Past President Dr. Murray Rebner talks to WJR's Paul W. Smith about the new breast cancer imaging guidelines.

Listen: Dr. Murray Rebner addresses the ACS guidelines on WJR's Frank Beckmann Show: The Society of Breast Imaging's Immediate Past President Dr. Murray Rebner talks to WJR's Frank Beckmann about the new breast cancer imaging guidelines.

The Wall Street Journal (10/21, Beck, Subscription Publication) reports that several groups, such as the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Society of Breast Imaging, released statements saying that annual mammograms should begin at age 40. 

The Washington Post (10/21, Kim) “To Your Health” blog reports that some “experts strongly believe all women in their forties should get mammograms, including Daniel Kopans, a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and director of breast imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital.” The blog “spoke to him about why 40 is a better threshold than 50 for screening,” as well as other issues related to mammography.

The Boston Globe (10/21, A1, Begley) reports on its front page that “radiologists...blasted the new guidelines.” In a statement, Dr. Debra Monticciolo of the ACR, said, “If a woman wants to reduce, as much as possible, her risk of dying of breast cancer, she will choose yearly mammography starting at age 40.”

Bloomberg News (10/20, Cortez) reports that the ACS’ “changes were welcomed by the U.S. panel, which said it would consider the new recommendations as it finalizes its own.” According to Bloomberg News, “The USPSTF, which currently urges biennial screening for women 50 to 74, noted the similarities between the two groups, including the finding that the benefits of mammography increase with age.” Monticciolo, chair of the ACR’s Breast Imaging Commission, said, “This report reaffirms that mammography screening leads to a significant decrease in breast cancer mortality.” Monticciolo added, “I’m hoping that what women will get from this is the clear benefit of mammography. That part of the debate is over.”

MedPage Today (10/21, Bankhead) reports, “For women 55 or older, the ACR and SBI ‘strongly encourage women to obtain the maximum lifesaving benefits from mammography by continuing to get annual screening,’ Monticciolo and SBI president Elizabeth Morris, MD, said in the statement.”

In its lead story, the CBS Evening News (10/20, lead story, 2:10, Pelley) reported that the American Cancer Society (ACS) has “revised its guidelines for screening for breast cancer.” The ACS “now says that women should get their first mammogram years later than previously recommended.”

In the lead story on NBC Nightly News (10/20, lead story, 2:45, Holt), NBC’s Anne Thompson said, “Instead of age 40,” the ACS now “recommends women start at age 45 if they are of average risk, without genetic mutations or a family history of breast cancer. At 55, women should transition to screening every other year if they have a life expectancy of ten years or longer.” Thompson added that the ACS “said the changes are designed to eliminate false positives and overtreatment.”

On ABC World News (10/20, story 4, 2:45, Muir), ABC’s Linzie Janis said that the ACS is “also dropping its previous recommendation that women have a manual exam so doctors can feel for abnormalities, because it’s never been shown to save lives.”

USA Today (10/21, Szabo) reports that these guidelines, published in JAMA, “reflect the growing recognition that mammograms can do harm, as well as good, said Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer at the” ACS.

The New York Times (10/21, A14, Grady, Subscription Publication) reports that “although the new guidelines may seem to differ markedly from the old ones, the American Cancer Society carefully tempered its language to leave plenty of room for women’s preferences.”

In a front-page story, the Washington Post (10/21, A1, Cha) reports that “the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) still recommends that regular screenings begin at age 40.” Meanwhile, “the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)...reaffirmed their view this April that women between ages 50 and 74 get routine screening once every two years.”

In an article titled “No One Agrees on Mammography Guidelines,” Newsweek (10/21) reports, “in January, members of the ACS, USPSTF, ACOG, American Academy of Family Physicians,” the ACR, “and other organization plan to meet at the Breast Cancer Screening Conference to reevaluate research in the hopes that all of the groups, with patients’ best interests in mind, can reach some consensus.”

The Seattle Times (10/21, Aleccia) reports, “An editorial accompanying the JAMA report by Dr. Nancy Keating of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Lydia Pace of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston emphasized that women need to become informed consumers who weigh the risks and benefits of screening in consultation with their health providers.”

Also covering the story are TIME (10/21, Sifferlin), HealthImaging (10/21), HealthDay (10/21, Thompson), The Hill (10/21, Ferris),OncLive (10/21), Diagnostic Imaging (10/21), Modern Healthcare (10/21, Subscription Publication), Medscape (10/21, Nelson),AFP (10/21, Sheridan), The Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard (10/21), the San Diego Union-Tribune (10/21, Fikes), the Sacramento (CA) Bee (10/21, Buck), the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (10/21, Venteicher), the Philadelphia Inquirer (10/21, Mccullough), theNew York Daily News (10/21, Greene), the Hampton Roads (VA) Virginian-Pilot (10/21, Simpson), the AP (10/21, Tanner), theSan Francisco Chronicle (10/21, Colliver, Subscription Publication), the CBS News (10/21, Marcus) website, Reuters (10/21, Seaman), the Huffington Post (10/21), the Los Angeles Times (10/21, Kaplan), and the Dallas Morning News (10/21, Kuchment). 

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