Since the US Preventive Service Task Force published revised guidelines recommending individualized screening schedules rather than routine annual mammograms for low to average risk women in their 40’s, the number of mammograms being done in this age group has declined.
In the year after the guidelines were published, nearly 54,000 fewer mammograms were performed on women ages 40 to 49. That represented a 5.72 percent decrease from the previous period. The authors said that the modest reductions probably reflected some public resistance to the new recommendations, in part because of conflicting guidelines from other groups that urge more frequent routine screenings.
I’m not surprised.
The study reflects what I’ve been seeing in my own practice – women in their 40’s asking “Do I really need this test?” and “Can I wait till I am 50?”. In most cases, after confirming that a patient is not an increased risk of having concerning symptoms or exam findings, we end up compromising on an every other year schedule. This seems to be something both they and I can feel comfortable with in light of the newness of the recommendations and the current medical legal climate in the United States. The few who have chosen to wait till 50 tend to be those who come from Europe (where mammgrams are done later than in the US) and those with prior experience, either personal or familial, of harms from mammograms.