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Nov 03, 2015

New Avalere Analysis Compares Varying Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

In October, the American Cancer Society (ACS) released its recommendations for breast cancer screening. The guidelines, which apply to women with average breast cancer risk, recommend annual screening from age 45 to 54, with biennial screening recommended for women over age 55. This represents a notable departure from its 2003 guideline, which advocated annual mammography for women at age 40 and older. The dramatic change in screening recommendation is in line with the growing evidence of benefits and harms of breast cancer screening. However, varying guidelines from organizations, such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) reveal that experts have not come to a complete agreement on this issue.

For example, ACS’ recommendation differs from the draft USPSTF recommendation on breast cancer screening released earlier this year. The USPSTF recommends biennial screening mammography for women ages 50 to 74 years (Grade B recommendation). For women ages 40 to 49 years, the Task Force determined that the decision should be made individually (Grade C recommendation). 

Given the varying recommendations, clinicians play a crucial role in conveying key messages on benefits and harms of breast cancer screening and engaging patients in shared decision-making.

For more information on breast cancer screening recommendations and their potential impact on patients’ access to mammography, contact Minnie Song at msong@avalere.com.

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