Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cancer Society's Change Creates Doubt, Support Area Doctor Applauds Mammograms at Age 40, Cites `Scientific Validation'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cancer Society's Change Creates Doubt, Support Area Doctor Applauds Mammograms at Age 40, Cites `Scientific Validation'

Article excerpt

SOME WOMEN feel encouraged and hopeful and others frustrated and confused by the American Cancer Society's change of heart this week on mammograms.

The society now says women as young as 40 should get annual tests.

"When are they going to make up their minds?" a 44-year-old patient asked a nurse Monday at Midwest Breast Care Center in Creve Coeur, where women get mammograms, X-rays of the breast used to detect cancers. The American Cancer Society announced its new guidelines on Sunday. Previously, the society had said that women in their 40s should get mammograms every one or two years. The society intended the new guidelines to save lives by detecting cancer earlier and to clear up confusion surrounding mammogram guidelines. Whether that will happen remains unclear. For many women, the issue remains muddled because the influential National Cancer Institute, at least for now, sticks to its position that there is still too little evidence to justify a government recommendation that all women in their 40s get annual mammograms. That decision should be left up to each woman and her doctor, a panel appointed by the institute said. The institute believes that there isn't enough scientific documentation to merit the cost and the radiation exposu re of annual mammograms. It also questions the tests' accuracy. In making its latest recommendations public Sunday, the American Cancer Society challenged the panel's position. The society guidelines instantly won support from prestigious medical groups nationwide, including the American College of Radiology, the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In the St. Louis area, health professionals and patients also applauded the society's guidelines. "It's a long time coming and very welcomed," said Dr. Barbara S. Monsees, an associate professor at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University and a radiologist who serves as chief of breast imaging for BJC Health System. Monsees said that for a long time doctors here have recommended annual mammograms for women in their 40s, well before the American Cancer Society's latest guidelines. She said that early detection is critical because, on the average, breast cancer tumors grow at a faster rate for women in that age group. "You need to screen yearly to catch the tumors before they get too big," she said. An estimated 3,400 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in Missouri this year and 9,200 in Illinois, according to the American Cancer Society. Monsees said that adequate scientific proof now exists to convince doctors that women over 40 should be routinely screened for breast cancer. "It's time to stop debating and confusing people," she said. "It's time to focus on implementation; we have the scientific validation." Monsees took that message to Capitol Hill in January when she testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that controls federal money for health. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.