The American College of Radiology is pleased that the American Medical Association (AMA), in updating its policy on breast cancer screening exams, “recognizes the mortality reduction benefit of screening mammography and supports its use as a tool to detect breast cancer” and “believes that beginning at the age of 40 years, all women should be eligible for screening mammography.”

Every major medical organization with demonstrated expertise in breast cancer care including: American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology, American Society of Breast Surgeons, American Society of Breast Disease, and Society of Breast Imaging, recommend that all women have yearly mammograms beginning at age 40.

“Since mammography screening became widespread in the early 1990’s, the U.S. breast cancer death rate, previously unchanged for 50 years, has dropped more than 30 percent. The largest (Hellquist et al) and perhaps longest (Tabar et al) breast cancer screening trials ever performed show this to be true even among women ages 40-49. One-in-six breast cancers occur in women 40-49, and 40 percent of all the life-years saved via mammography are for these women. The ACR urges women ages 40-and-over to receive annual mammograms. Women need access to these lifesaving exams. Government and insurers should not get in the way of this care,” said Paul Ellenbogen, MD, FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors.

The ACR is also pleased that the AMA "expresses concern regarding recent recommendations by the USPSTF [United States Preventative Services Task Force] on screening mammography and prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening and the effects these recommendations have on limiting access to preventive care for Americans."

The ACR applauds the AMA for encouraging the USPSTF to “implement procedures that allow for meaningful input on recommendation development from specialists and stakeholders in the topic area under study.”

Recommendations made by bodies without direct expertise in the subject matter can have dire consequences. A recent analysis by Hendrick and Helvie, published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, showed that if USPSTF breast cancer screening guidelines were followed, approximately 6,500 additional women each year in the U.S. would die from breast cancer.

“The bottom line is that discontinuing regular mammograms may save a few dollars in the short term, but will result in thousands more breast cancer deaths each year. That human cost is too high,” said Barbara Monsees, MD, chair of the ACR Commission on Breast Imaging.

For more information on the importance of annual mammograms beginning at age 40, please visit www.MammographySavesLives.org.  

Click here to view the AMA Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations.