The Straits Times
Published on Nov 28, 2012

Study leaves US women with conflicting advice on mammograms


CHICAGO (REUTERS) - Controversial United States (US) guidelines for mammography issued in 2009, calling for screening every two years rather than annually for women over 50 years old, can result in breast cancers being missed, according to US researchers studying the hotly debated topic.

This latest study assessing the impact of revised guidelines issued by the US Preventive Services Task Force three years ago comes on the back of a chilling analysis published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

The NEJM study, using three decades of US government data, found that nearly one in three patients - or 1.3 million women - whose cancer was detected through routine mammograms was treated for a tumor that may not have been life threatening.

Routine screening has traditionally been recommended by the task force and the American Cancer Society for all women over the age of 40. The American Cancer Society has not changed its stance, but the task force issued new guidelines in 2009, recommending mammography every two years for women 50 to 74 years old.