New Mammography Guidelines Issued

by Diane Lofshult on May 01, 2002

Industry Watch

For years, physicians and medical organizations have been espousing the benefits of annual mammograms as one way women can take charge of their health. Then in October 2001, an article in the British journal Lancet questioned whether this breast-screening technique had any impact on breast cancer deaths. This report spurred months of controversy within the medical community and led to much confusion among women. To allay some of the confusion, several organizations took extraordinary steps: At the end of January, 10 health organizations, including the American Cancer Society, joined forces and ran a full-page ad in the New York Times expressing concern about the new findings and urging women to continue to have annual mammograms. At the same time, the editors of HealthNews, a publication of the New England Journal of Medicine, ran a lead story in their February issue advising women not to “spurn” this technique. The authors concluded, “There is widespread agreement that appropriate treatment for breast abnormalities uncovered by mammography does save lives.”

Finally, in late February, new federal guidelines for breast cancer screening were revealed that now represent the government’s official policy on mammograms. To underscore the importance of this issue, health officials held a press conference to announce the new guidelines, which not only strongly recommend mammography but also lower the age at which women should start getting such tests.

“The federal government makes a clear recommendation to women on mammography,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on February 21. “If you are 40 or older, get screened for breast cancer with mammography every one to two years. While developing technology certainly holds the promise for new detection and treatment methods, mammography remains a strong and important tool in the early detection of breast cancer. The early detection of breast cancer can save lives.”

Thompson said the new guidelines were based on updated recommendations made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a leading independent panel of experts on prevention and primary care who work in the private sector. The panel’s recommendations were made after reviewing eight randomized controlled trials of mammography that studied women over a period of 11 to 20 years.

The new guidelines build on previous USPSTF recommendations for breast cancer screening. Earlier guidelines published in 1989 and 1996 had endorsed mammograms for women 50 and older. The 2002 guidelines advise regular mammography for women 40 and older. However, the guidelines do acknowledge that the strongest evidence of reduced mortality from breast cancer has involved women between 50 and 69 years of age. The guidelines also contain a caveat that mammography is associated with some risk, given that false-positive results may lead to unnecessary biopsies. The risk declines as women get older.

In a similar show of support for breast cancer screening through mammography, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) issued its own endorsement. “Early detection of cancer saves lives, and we continue to recommend mammography for women in their 40s and older,” said NCI Director Andrew von Eschenbach, MD. ‰

IDEA Health Fitness Source, Volume 2003, Issue 5

© 2002 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach,...


Trending Articles

How to Teach HIIT to Everyone

High-intensity interval training has been riding a wave of popularity, and it seems everyone wants to give it a try. However, intense interval training is nothing new. Group fitness instructors have b...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

Full-Body “Farmhand Fitness”

Several years ago, at the IDEA World Fitness Convention™ session, presenter Michol Dalcourt remarked that young athletes from rural ar...

Recipe for Health: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers

If you don’t believe that authentic Mexican cookery is “whole” and healthy, you need to take a deep dive into Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon 2014), the first truly comprehensive bible...

Show More