Troubling News: Mayo Clinic Reports Less Mammograms for Women in their Forties

Breast Imaging and Biopsy Doctor Weighs in on Study and more

Stacey Vitiello, MD, Breast Imaging and Biopsy Specialist at the renowned Montclair Breast Center, said she is upset by the statistics.
Diane Lilli

The Mayo Clinic just released a major study reporting there are less women in their forties getting mammograms. This new reduction in the number of women in their forties going in for mammograms comes just one year after the United States Preventative Services Task Force recommended woman wait until after 50 for yearly screenings.

Now, the Mayo Clinic reports there is a 6 percent reduction in the number of women getting mammograms. This latest study was taken using statistics from 100 health plans across the U.S. The Mayo Clinic studies about 60 million American women between the ages of 40 - 64.

The American Cancer Society still recommends women get yearly screenings starting at 40.

This is troubling news for many doctors specializing in breast cancer. Stacey Vitiello, MD, Breast Imaging and Biopsy Specialist at the renowned Montclair Breast Center, said she is upset by the statistics.

"This is very disturbing information being reported by the Mayo Clinic researchers, regarding a 6% decline in mammography screening in 2010 by women in their 40's,” she noted. “It will be useful to see the data they intend to report within the next few weeks regarding screening patterns in 2011, to determine if this trend has continued.”

Doctor Vitiello adds that studies prove screening equals more lives saved for women who may have breast cancer and not know about it.


“The USPSTF’s own “data” confirmed that significantly more women would survive if mammography screening began at age 40,” added Vitiello. “But they ignored their own data, and they claimed that the supposed “harms” of screening (discomfort, anxiety, being called back for additional pictures, potentially having a needle biopsy that turns out to be benign, the risk of diagnosing cancers that wouldn’t necessarily kill the woman--- though no one can tell us which cancers those are at the current time) outweigh the benefit of lives being saved.  This was clearly not an objective, impartial scientific judgment; this was a value judgment, made with the over-arching goal of creating cost-saving public-policy recommendations for a broken healthcare system. 

In practice, we are beginning to see the fallout from that judgment.”

This breast specialist sends out a warning to all women.

“The infamous “death panels” have already landed, folks.  But contrary to expectations, it’s not grandma’s plug that’s being pulled; it’s women in their 40’s who are being hung out to dry.  Since the USPSTF recommendations were issued in 2009, we've seen cases in clinical practice where women in their 40's are diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer, after they'd chosen to delay screening mammography until they turned 50, as the USPSTF recommends.  This is simply unacceptable.  The Task Force recommendations are harming many women, and they should be rescinded immediately.”

As per insurance, the bane of many patients and doctors, help may be coming from the most respected source in medicine in the U.S.

“Just this week, after much discussion, inquiry and debate, The House of Delegates of the American Medical Association (AMA) voted at the AMA 2012 Annual Meeting to support insurance coverage for screening mammography,” note Vitiello. “The AMA further stated its belief that beginning at age 40 years, all women should be eligible for screening mammography.  The AMA now joins the American Cancer Society, the American College of Ob/Gyn, the American College of Radiology, and other esteemed guideline-making professional groups in disagreeing with the USPSTF 2009 guidelines.  Women would be wise to heed their advice, and to disregard the dangerous recommendations made by a government-appointed panel that did not include a single expert in breast cancer within the group."


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