Stamatia Destounis, MD, FACR, Chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Breast Imaging Commission, contributed this piece.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently released draft Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations that call for biennial screening for women ages 40–49. This is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough.
The USPSTF, ACR, Society of Breast Imaging (SBI), American Cancer Society and others agree that the most lives are saved when women are screened annually starting at age 40. The Task Force should recommend such yearly screening for average-risk patients. New ACR/SBI guidelines for high-risk women also recommend that all women have a risk assessment by age 25 and discuss with their healthcare provider whether earlier screening with mammography and/or MRI is needed.
To educate the public, media and decision makers about why we think the Task Force should recommend annual screening starting at age 40 (and why women should get a risk assessment by age 25) the ACR released a statement and made breast cancer experts available to media.
ACR spokespeople and/or ACR guidelines have been quoted in more than 2,000 media reports since the draft recommendations were released. These include CBS News, NBC’s Today Show, BBC News, NPR, Associated Press, the Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, WebMD and others.
The Affordable Care Act requires private insurers to cover with no copay all exams and procedures given a “B” rating or higher by the Task Force.
Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings Act language, passed as part of the FY2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, requires insurers to recognize for coverage decisions 2002 USPSTF guidelines allowing for annual screening starting at age 40. This mandate remains in effect until Jan. 1, 2025. The ACR will continue to press for this coverage mandate to be extended beyond 2025.
The ACR and SBI would like the USPSTF to help create uniform guidance and alleviate confusion among women by joining the ACR, SBI, American Society of Breast Surgeons and other experts in recommending annual screening for all average-risk women ages 40 and older.
The Task Force’s draft recommendation statement, draft evidence review and draft modeling report have been posted for public comment on the Task Force website.
I invite you to submit comments to the USPSTF through June 5, urging them to continue to move in the right direction by updating their draft recommendations to include annual screening of average-risk women ages 40 and older.
“Focused. Forward. Together.” is not just the ACR’s new branding. It is how we can continue to make a difference in our patients’ lives and make medicine better.