Radiology Associates' Response to Task Force Mammography Recommendations
Radiology Associates, L.L.P. 4444Corona, Suite 200 Corpus Christi, TX 78411 (361) 561-3136
November 20, 2009
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
820 N. Lower Broadway
Corpus Christi, Tx 78401
To the Editor,
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations to cut screening entirely for women aged 40-49 and decrease it to every other year for women 50 and older are severely flawed.
National statistics show that about 18 percent of all breast cancers occur in women aged 40-49, our experience at Radiology Associates confirms this statistic. We also know that breast cancers occurring in women under 50 tend to grow faster and more aggressively than in older women and arise in denser tissues, making their early detection more difficult.
For women 50 and older, the USPSTF suggestion to decrease screening from annually to every two years will lead to more tumors found at a larger size and later stage, a likely precursor to higher death rates.
Daniel B. Kopans, M.D., Senior Radiologist, Breast Imaging Division and Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School, wrote an article for Massachusetts General Hospital stating, "The USPSTF has misled American women and their physicians by suggesting that it has reviewed all of the pertinent literature and data on breast cancer screening and that its guidelines are "evidence based." In fact, the USPSTF has selected the information that suits its agenda. The death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 30% since 1990 due to the onset of annual mammography screening for women ages 40 and over in the mid 1980s. Prior to mammography screening, nothing had influenced the death rate since 1940. Studies in Sweden and the Netherlands have clearly shown that when mammography screening is introduced into the general population, the vast majority of the subsequent decrease in deaths is due to mammography screening, and not new therapiesâ€¦The marked decrease in deaths that accompanies mammography screening has been a major advance for women's health. This is a remarkable achievement, and now the USPSTF, deciding that it thinks that women should be allowed to die from their breast cancers, is trying to turn back the clock 20 years."
Since the release of this recommendation by the USPSTF, more than 200 prestigious medical institutions across the country have stated that they will not change their recommendations that women 40 and over continue to have annual mammograms. These institutions include Massachusetts General Hospital, Mayo Clinic, Duke University, University of Texas Medical Branch, Baylor College of Medicine and the MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Radiology Associates also maintains our recommendations for annual screening as suggested by the American College of Radiology and the American Cancer Society, and we advise younger women, who typically have denser breast tissue, to get digital mammography which improves the accuracy of detecting breast cancer in these women. We also recommend these women seek evaluations with their physicians and dedicated breast imaging radiologists.
James A. Nudelman, M.D.
Radiology Associates, L.L.P. is a Radiology Practice with 14 Physician Partners located in Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. Radiology Associates serves the women of the Coastal Bend by performing and interpreting tens of thousands of mammograms each year.