Dr. Barbara Monsees of Washington University Medical School and the Center for Advanced Medicine disagrees with the recommendations just released by the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force for mammograms. The USPSTF says women should get screened for breast cancer with mammograms at age 50, not age 40 as the American Cancer Society has said for nearly 20 years. Why the change? The Task Force says the one woman per 1900 women tested diagnosed with breast cancer through mamorgraphy age forty to age fifty isn't worth the biopsies performed to rule out cancer on non-cancerous lumps and the stress caused by them. After age fifty, the number changes to one woman diagnosed per 1300 women. Also, the Task Force determined breast self exams have no value.
Dr. Monsees says the Task Force used a methodology which weighs the negative - the "harm" - caused by screening women ages forty to fifty, but one which does not take into account all of the "benefit". Its a scientific point of debate that leads her to believe the current recommendation of regular testing after age forty is still the appropriate one to follow. She hopes women will adhere to the American Cancer Society's recommendations and continue to be screened after age forty, not waiting until age fifty, and yearly not every other year as per the Task Force.