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Clinical Guidelines |

Screening Mammography for Women 40 to 49 Years of Age: A Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians FREE

Amir Qaseem, MD, PhD, MHA; Vincenza Snow, MD; Katherine Sherif, MD; Mark Aronson, MD; Kevin B. Weiss, MD, MPH; Douglas K. Owens, MD, MS, Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians*
[+] Article and Author Information

From the American College of Physicians and Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital and Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois; and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University, Stanford, California.


Note: Clinical practice guidelines are guides only and may not apply to all patients and all clinical situations. Thus, they are not intended to override clinicians' judgment. All ACP clinical practice guidelines are considered automatically withdrawn or invalid 5 years after publication or once an update has been issued.

Annals of Internal Medicine encourages readers to copy and distribute this paper, provided that such distribution is not for profit. Commercial distribution is not permitted without the express permission of the publisher.

Grant Support: Financial support for the development of this guideline comes exclusively from the ACP operating budget.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest:Grants received: V. Snow (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlantic Philanthropies).

Requests for Single Reprints: Amir Qaseem, MD, PhD, MHA, American College of Physicians, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106; e-mail, aqaseem@acponline.org.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Qaseem and Snow: American College of Physicians, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Dr. Sherif: 219 North Broad Street, 6th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Dr. Aronson: 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.

Dr. Weiss: PO Box 5000, Hines, IL 60141.

Dr. Owens: 117 Encina Commons, Stanford, CA 94305.


Ann Intern Med. 2007;146(7):511-515. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-146-7-200704030-00007
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Breast cancer is one of the most common causes of death for women in their 40s in the United States. Individualized risk assessment plays an important role when making decisions about screening mammography, especially for women 49 years of age or younger. The purpose of this guideline is to present the available evidence for screening mammography in women 40 to 49 years of age and to increase clinicians' understanding of the benefits and risks of screening mammography.

*This paper, written by Amir Qaseem, MD, PhD, MHA; Vincenza Snow, MD; Katherine Sherif, MD; Mark Aronson, MD; Kevin B. Weiss, MD, MPH; and Douglas K. Owens, MD, MS, was developed for the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians (ACP): Douglas K. Owens, MD, MS (Chair); Mark Aronson, MD; Patricia Barry, MD, MPH; Donald E. Casey Jr., MD, MPH, MBA; J. Thomas Cross Jr., MD, MPH; Nick Fitterman, MD; E. Rodney Hornbake, MD; Katherine D. Sherif, MD; and Kevin B. Weiss, MD, MPH (Immediate Past Chair). Approved by the ACP Board of Regents on 15 July 2006.

Recommendation 1: In women 40 to 49 years of age, clinicians should periodically perform individualized assessment of risk for breast cancer to help guide decisions about screening mammography.

A careful assessment of a woman's risk for breast cancer is important. The 5-year breast cancer risk can vary from 0.4% for a woman age 40 years with no risk factors to 6.0% for a woman age 49 years with several risk factors (1). Factors that increase the risk for breast cancer include older age, family history of breast cancer, older age at the time of first birth, younger age at menarche, and history of breast biopsy. Women 40 to 49 years of age who have any of the following risk factors have a higher risk for breast cancer than the average 50-year-old woman: 2 first-degree relatives with breast cancer; 2 previous breast biopsies; 1 first-degree relative with breast cancer and 1 previous breast biopsy; previous diagnosis of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or atypical hyperplasia; previous chest irradiation (1); or BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation (23). A family history can also help identify women who may have BRCA mutations that place them at substantially higher risk for breast and other types of cancer (Table). These women should be referred for counseling and recommendations specific to this population, as recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) (4). Risk assessments should be updated periodically, particularly in women whose family history changes (for example, a relative receives a diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer) and in women who choose not to have regular screening mammography. Although no evidence supports specific intervals, we encourage clinicians to update the woman's risk assessment every 1 to 2 years.

Table Jump PlaceholderTable.  Family History Patterns Associated with an Increased Risk for BRCA1 or BRCA2Gene Mutations*

The risk for invasive breast cancer can be estimated quantitatively by using the Web site calculator provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (http://bcra.nci.nih.gov/brc/q1.htm) (1). This calculator is based on the Gail model, which takes into account many of the risk factors previously mentioned. However, clinicians who use the Gail model should be aware of its limitations. Although the model accurately predicts the risk for cancer for groups of women, its ability to discriminate between higher and lower risk for an individual woman is limited (56). This limitation occurs because many women have similar, relatively low absolute risks for invasive breast cancer over 5 years, which makes discrimination among levels of risk difficult for an individual woman.

Recommendation 2: Clinicians should inform women 40 to 49 years of age about the potential benefits and harms of screening mammography.

Screening mammography for women 40 to 49 years of age is associated with both benefits and potential harms. The most important benefit of screening mammography every 1 to 2 years in women 40 to 49 years of age is a potential decrease in breast cancer mortality. A recent meta-analysis estimated the relative reduction in the breast cancer mortality rate to be 15% after 14 years of follow-up (relative risk, 0.85 [95% credible interval {CrI}, 0.73 to 0.99]) (7). An additional large randomized clinical trial of screening mammography in women 40 to 49 years of age found a similar decrease in the risk for death due to breast cancer, although the decrease did not reach statistical significance (relative risk, 0.83 [95% CI, 0.66 to 1.04]) (8). Potential risks of mammography include false-positive results, diagnosis and treatment for cancer that would not have become clinically evident during the patient's lifetime, radiation exposure, false reassurance, and procedure-associated pain. False-positive mammography can lead to increased anxiety and to feelings of increased susceptibility to breast cancer, but most studies found that anxiety resolved quickly after the evaluation.

Recommendation 3: For women 40 to 49 years of age, clinicians should base screening mammography decisions on benefits and harms of screening, as well as on a woman's preferences and breast cancer risk profile.

Because the evidence shows variation in risk for breast cancer and benefits and harms of screening mammography based on an individual woman's risk profile, a personalized screening strategy based on a discussion of the benefits and potential harms of screening and an understanding of a woman's preferences will help identify those who will most benefit from screening mammography. For many women, the potential reduction in breast cancer mortality rate associated with screening mammography will outweigh other considerations. For women who do not wish to discuss the screening decision, screening mammography every 1 to 2 years in women 40 to 49 years of age is reasonable.

Important factors in the decision to undergo screening mammography are women's preferences for screening and the associated outcomes. Concerns about risks for breast cancer or its effect on quality of life will vary greatly among women. Some women may also be particularly concerned about the potential harms of screening mammography, such as false-positive mammograms and the resulting diagnostic work-up. When feasible, clinicians should explore women's concerns about breast cancer and screening mammography to help guide decision making about mammography.

The relative balance of benefits and harms depends on women's concerns and preferences and on their risk for breast cancer. Clinicians should help women to judge the balance of benefits and harms from screening mammography. Women who are at greater-than-average absolute risk for breast cancer and who are concerned that breast cancer would have a severely adverse effect on quality of life may derive a greater-than-average benefit from screening mammography. Women who are at substantially lower-than-average risk for breast cancer or who are concerned about potential risks of mammography may derive a less-than-average benefit from screening mammography.

If a woman decides to forgo mammography, clinicians should readdress the decision to have screening every 1 to 2 years.

Recommendation 4: We recommend further research on the net benefits and harms of breast cancer screening modalities for women 40 to 49 years of age.

Methodological issues associated with existing breast cancer screening trials, such as compliance with screening, lack of statistical power, and inadequate information about inclusion or exclusion criteria and study population, heighten the need for high-quality trials to confirm the effectiveness of screening mammography in women in this age group. Furthermore, harms of screening in this age group, such as pain, radiation exposure, and adverse outcomes related to false-positive results, should also be studied.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the United States. In 2005, an estimated 211 240 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed, and 40 410 women will die of the disease (9). Screening mammography reduces breast cancer mortality in women 50 to 70 years of age. Although 25% of all diagnosed cases are among women younger than 50 years of age (9), screening mammography in this age group has remained a topic of debate because of the difficulty in determining the benefit of mammography in this age group. A meta-analysis performed for the USPSTF estimated that screening mammography every 1 to 2 years in women 40 to 49 years of age resulted in a 15% decrease in breast cancer mortality rate after 14 years of follow-up (7). However, the 95% credible interval for this estimate is wide and indicates that the reduction could be as much as 27% or as little as 1%. This relative risk reduction corresponds to about 5.6 deaths prevented per 10 000 women screened (95% CrI, 0.9 to 13.1 deaths prevented per 10 000 women screened). Because screening mammography is also associated with potential harms, a discussion of risks (biopsies, surgery, radiation exposure, false-positive results, and false reassurance), benefits (early detection of breast cancer), and patient preferences should be the basis for screening decisions.

The purpose of this guideline is to present the available evidence and to increase clinicians' understanding of the benefits and risks of screening mammography in women 40 to 49 years of age. The target audience is clinicians who are caring for women in this age group. The target patient population is all women 40 to 49 years of age. These recommendations are based on the systematic review of the evidence in the background paper in this issue (6). The systematic evidence review does not include breast cancer risk in men and genetic risk markers, such as BRCA.

The goal for this guideline was to answer the following questions:

1. What are the benefits of screening mammography in women 40 to 49 years of age?

2. What are the risks associated with screening mammography in women 40 to 49 years of age?

3. Does the balance of risks and benefits vary according the individual woman's characteristics?

4. What are the methodological issues that affect the interpretation of the results of previous meta-analyses?

Of the 8 currently published meta-analyses, 7 estimated that screening women 40 to 49 years of age reduced breast cancer mortality rates, but only 3 of these found a statistically significant reduction (7). The most recent meta-analysis found that screening mammography every 1 to 2 years in women 40 to 49 years of age results in a 15% decrease in breast cancer mortality rate after 14 years of follow-up (relative risk, 0.85 [95% CI, 0.73 to 0.99]) (7). However, concerns about study quality and whether some of the observed benefit may be due to screening that occurred after the women turned 50 years of age complicate interpretation of the evidence. The use of death due to breast cancer as an end point can be criticized because cause of death could have been misclassified, and therefore some authors have suggested using overall mortality as the primary end point. However, estimation of the effect of screening mammography on total mortality would require very large study samples to detect any differences between screened and unscreened groups. Finally, the benefit of screening mammography in younger women remains controversial because of concerns about the quality of the trials that showed this result. Some of the trials had inadequate and inconsistent reporting of randomization, differences in baseline characteristics between study groups, and women in the control group who were screened outside the study protocol. Depending on how stringently the quality criteria were applied, meta-analyses could vary from the 2001 Cochrane meta-analysis that included only 2 of the 8 trials that targeted women between 40 and 49 years of age (10) to the recent USPSTF report that included all trials but the Edinburgh trial (7). A recent study (11) based on 7 model-based analyses concluded that screening mammography resulted in a 7.5% to 22.7% reduction in the breast cancer mortality rate but did not specifically evaluate the effect of screening mammography in women 40 to 49 years of age. On balance, however, we concurred with authors of the meta-analysis for the USPSTF guideline, who concluded that the limitations of the trials were not sufficient to exclude them (7). We believe the weight of the evidence supports a modest reduction in breast cancer mortality rate with mammography screening of approximately 15% in women 40 to 49 years of age, but the wide CIs for this estimate reflect that the reduction could be larger or nearly zero.

Some uncertainty exists in measuring the absolute impact of screening on morbidity associated with breast cancer and its treatment. Early diagnosis through screening is more likely to be associated with breast-conserving surgery. An observational study found that screening is associated with an absolute increase in lumpectomy (0.7 per 1000 women) and a decrease in absolute risk for mastectomy (0.5 per 1000 women) (12).

In summary, evidence demonstrates that screening mammography in women age 40 to 49 years, compared with women who do not get screened, decreases breast cancer mortality. However, the reduction in the mortality rate is smaller than the 22% (95% CrI, 0.70 to 0.87) reduction seen in women who are screened when they are older than 49 years of age (67). In addition, the estimate of the mortality rate reduction may be affected by biases in the trials or the effects of screening after the age of 49 years.

Risks of mammography include false-positive results, diagnosis of cancer that would not have become clinically evident during the patient's lifetime, radiation exposure, false reassurance, and procedure-associated pain. Women 40 to 49 years of age may have a higher risk for a false-positive result, and false-positive rates vary widely among several studies. Mushlin and colleagues' meta-analysis (13) of the sensitivity and specificity of screening mammography showed false-positive rates of 0.9% and 6.5%, respectively. However, other analyses have demonstrated cumulative rates of false-positive mammograms of 38% after 10 mammograms (14) and 21% after 10 mammograms (15). Some studies show no difference in the false-positive rates between women 40 to 49 years age and those older than 49 years of age (1619). Outcomes associated with false-positive screening mammograms included small increases in general anxiety and depression, anxiety specific to breast cancer, and perceived increased susceptibility to breast cancer; however, anxiety generally resolved quickly after evaluation (6).

Use of mammography has been associated with increased diagnosis of DCIS. The natural history of DCIS is unknown, as is the percentage of these tumors that will progress to more serious disease. In 1999, 33% of women in whom DCIS was diagnosed had mastectomy, 64% had lumpectomy, and 52% had radiation (20). Not all DCIS cases may have required aggressive treatment, but reliable predictors of biological aggressiveness are difficult to categorize.

No direct evidence links cancer risk with radiation exposure from mammography. Reported pain varied from 28% of women in 1 study to 77% of women in another study. However, pain associated with the mammographic procedure was described by few women as a disincentive from having any future screening (2124).

Current evidence shows variation among women in terms of benefits and harms associated with screening mammography between 40 and 49 years of age (6). The decision to have screening mammography should be guided by the balance of benefits and harms for an individual woman. This balance will be affected by a woman's view about how breast cancer and the outcomes associated with screening mammography will influence her quality of life and by her risk for breast cancer. Although the balance will favor screening for many women, it is less certain in women who are very concerned about the potential harms of mammography and who are at substantially lower-than-average risk for breast cancer.

The main benefit of screening mammography every 1 to 2 years in women 40 to 49 years of age is a decrease in breast cancer mortality. Harms of screening mammography include false-positive results, radiation exposure, false reassurance, pain related to the procedure, and possible treatment for lesions that would not have become clinically significant. The probability of false-positive mammograms was also higher in women with dense breasts, if the interval since the last mammography was long, and in women who had previous breast biopsy (2526). In addition, women place substantially different value on a false-positive mammogram, a negative mammogram, and the reduction in the rate of mortality associated with breast cancer (27).

A woman's risk for breast cancer is influenced by age, family history of breast cancer, reproductive history, age at menarche, and history of breast biopsy. For example, the risk for breast cancer is higher for women 40 to 49 years of age if they have a history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative: 4.7 cases per 1000 examinations among women with family history versus 2.7 cases per 1000 examinations among those without family history. Older age, younger age at menarche, older age at the time of first birth, and history of breast biopsy also increase the risk for breast cancer.

The absolute risk for breast cancer for a woman at a given age and with certain risk factors can be estimated by using the Web site calculator provided by the NIH that is based on the Gail model (1). However, the accuracy of the Gail model is better when predicting the average level of risk in a group of women who are at similar risk than when discriminating between women who will and will not develop breast cancer. In addition, a clinician may be unable to assess the risk for breast cancer because of a lack of family history or in women who were adopted.

Screening mammography probably reduces breast cancer mortality in women 40 to 49 years of age modestly. However, the reduction in this age group is smaller than that in women 50 years of age or older, is subject to greater uncertainty about the exact reduction in risk, and comes with the risk for potential harms (such as false-positive and false-negative results, exposure to radiation, discomfort, and anxiety).

Because of the variation in benefits and harms associated with screening mammography, we recommend tailoring the decision to screen women on the basis of women's concerns about mammography and breast cancer, as well as their risk for breast cancer. Assessment of an individual woman's risk for breast cancer is important because the balance of harms and benefits will shift to net benefit as a woman's baseline risk for breast cancer increases, all other factors being equal. For many women, the potential reduction in risk for death due to breast cancer associated with screening mammography will outweigh other considerations.

The 2006 American Cancer Society guideline (28) recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.

The 2003 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guideline (29) recommends that women aged 40 to 49 years have screening mammography every 1 to 2 years.

The 2002 USPSTF guideline (30) recommends screening mammography, with or without clinical breast examination (CBE), every 1 to 2 years for women aged 40 and older.

The 2001 Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (31) says that current evidence regarding the effectiveness of screening mammography does not suggest the inclusion of the maneuver in, or its exclusion from, the periodic health examination of women 40 to 49 years of age who are at average risk for breast cancer. Upon reaching 40 years of age, Canadian women should be informed of the potential benefits and risks of screening mammography and assisted in deciding at what age they wish to initiate the maneuver.

National Cancer Institute.  Breast cancer risk assessment tool. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Accessed athttp://bcra.nci.nih.gov/brc/q1.htmon 31 January 2007.
 
Armstrong K, Eisen A, Weber B.  Assessing the risk of breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 2000; 342:564-71. PubMed
CrossRef
 
Nelson HD, Huffman LH, Fu R, Harris EL.  Genetic risk assessment and BRCA mutation testing for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility: systematic evidence review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2005; 143:362-79. PubMed
 
.  Genetic risk assessment and BRCA mutation testing for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility: recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2005; 143:355-61. PubMed
 
Rockhill B, Spiegelman D, Byrne C, Hunter DJ, Colditz GA.  Validation of the Gail et al. model of breast cancer risk prediction and implications for chemoprevention. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001; 93:358-66. PubMed
 
Armstrong K, Moye E, Williams S, Berlin JA, Reynolds EE.  Screening mammography in women 40 to 49 years of age: a systematic review for the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2007; 146:516-526.
 
Humphrey LL, Helfand M, Chan BK, Woolf SH.  Breast cancer screening: a summary of the evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2002; 137:347-60. PubMed
 
Moss SM, Cuckle H, Evans A, Johns L, Waller M, Bobrow L. et al.  Effect of mammographic screening from age 40 years on breast cancer mortality at 10 years' follow-up: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2006; 368:2053-60. PubMed
 
American Cancer Society.  Cancer Facts & Figures 2005. Atlanta: American Cancer Soc; 2005.
 
Olsen O, Gøtzsche PC.  Cochrane review on screening for breast cancer with mammography [Letter]. Lancet. 2001; 358:1340-2. PubMed
 
Berry DA, Cronin KA, Plevritis SK, Fryback DG, Clarke L, Zelen M. et al.  Effect of screening and adjuvant therapy on mortality from breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 2005; 353:1784-92. PubMed
 
Paci E, Duffy SW, Giorgi D, Zappa M, Crocetti E, Vezzosi V. et al.  Are breast cancer screening programmes increasing rates of mastectomy? Observational study. BMJ. 2002; 325:418. PubMed
 
Mushlin AI, Kouides RW, Shapiro DE.  Estimating the accuracy of screening mammography: a meta-analysis. Am J Prev Med. 1998; 14:143-53. PubMed
 
Olivotto IA, Kan L, Coldman AJ.  False positive rate of screening mammography [Letter]. N Engl J Med. 1998; 339:560. PubMed
 
Hofvind S, Thoresen S, Tretli S.  The cumulative risk of a false-positive recall in the Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Program. Cancer. 2004; 101:1501-7. PubMed
 
Miller AB, Baines CJ, To T, Wall C.  Canadian National Breast Screening Study: 2. Breast cancer detection and death rates among women aged 50 to 59 years. CMAJ. 1992; 147:1477-88. PubMed
 
Miller AB, Baines CJ, To T, Wall C.  Canadian National Breast Screening Study: 1. Breast cancer detection and death rates among women aged 40 to 49 years. CMAJ. 1992; 147:1459-76. PubMed
 
Kerlikowske K, Grady D, Barclay J, Sickles EA, Ernster V.  Likelihood ratios for modern screening mammography. Risk of breast cancer based on age and mammographic interpretation. JAMA. 1996; 276:39-43. PubMed
 
Peeters PH, Verbeek AL, Hendriks JH, van Bon MJ.  Screening for breast cancer in Nijmegen. Report of 6 screening rounds, 1975-1986. Int J Cancer. 1989; 43:226-30. PubMed
 
Baxter NN, Virnig BA, Durham SB, Tuttle TM.  Trends in the treatment of ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004; 96:443-8. PubMed
 
Leaney BJ, Martin M.  Breast pain associated with mammographic compression. Australas Radiol. 1992; 36:120-3. PubMed
 
Keemers-Gels ME, Groenendijk RP, van den Heuvel JH, Boetes C, Peer PG, Wobbes TH.  Pain experienced by women attending breast cancer screening. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2000; 60:235-40. PubMed
 
Brew MD, Billings JD, Chisholm RJ.  Mammography and breast pain. Australas Radiol. 1989; 33:335-6. PubMed
 
Bakker DA, Lightfoot NE, Steggles S, Jackson C.  The experience and satisfaction of women attending breast cancer screening. Oncol Nurs Forum. 1998; 25:115-21. PubMed
 
Carney PA, Miglioretti DL, Yankaskas BC, Kerlikowske K, Rosenberg R, Rutter CM. et al.  Individual and combined effects of age, breast density, and hormone replacement therapy use on the accuracy of screening mammography. Ann Intern Med. 2003; 138:168-75. PubMed
 
Elmore JG, Miglioretti DL, Reisch LM, Barton MB, Kreuter W, Christiansen CL. et al.  Screening mammograms by community radiologists: variability in false-positive rates. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002; 94:1373-80. PubMed
 
Schwartz LM, Woloshin S, Sox HC, Fischhoff B, Welch HG.  US women's attitudes to false positive mammography results and detection of ductal carcinoma in situ: cross sectional survey. BMJ. 2000; 320:1635-40. PubMed
 
Smith RA, Cokkinides V, Eyre HJ.  American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer, 2006. CA Cancer J Clin. 2006; 56:11-25. PubMed
 
.  ACOG practice bulletin. Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists. Number 42, April 2003. Breast cancer screening. Obstet Gynecol. 2003; 101:821-31. PubMed
 
.  Screening for breast cancer: recommendations and rationale. Ann Intern Med. 2002; 137:344-6. PubMed
 
Ringash J.  Preventive health care, 2001 update: screening mammography among women aged 40-49 years at average risk of breast cancer. CMAJ. 2001; 164:469-76. PubMed
 

Figures

Tables

Table Jump PlaceholderTable.  Family History Patterns Associated with an Increased Risk for BRCA1 or BRCA2Gene Mutations*

References

National Cancer Institute.  Breast cancer risk assessment tool. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Accessed athttp://bcra.nci.nih.gov/brc/q1.htmon 31 January 2007.
 
Armstrong K, Eisen A, Weber B.  Assessing the risk of breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 2000; 342:564-71. PubMed
CrossRef
 
Nelson HD, Huffman LH, Fu R, Harris EL.  Genetic risk assessment and BRCA mutation testing for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility: systematic evidence review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2005; 143:362-79. PubMed
 
.  Genetic risk assessment and BRCA mutation testing for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility: recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2005; 143:355-61. PubMed
 
Rockhill B, Spiegelman D, Byrne C, Hunter DJ, Colditz GA.  Validation of the Gail et al. model of breast cancer risk prediction and implications for chemoprevention. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001; 93:358-66. PubMed
 
Armstrong K, Moye E, Williams S, Berlin JA, Reynolds EE.  Screening mammography in women 40 to 49 years of age: a systematic review for the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2007; 146:516-526.
 
Humphrey LL, Helfand M, Chan BK, Woolf SH.  Breast cancer screening: a summary of the evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2002; 137:347-60. PubMed
 
Moss SM, Cuckle H, Evans A, Johns L, Waller M, Bobrow L. et al.  Effect of mammographic screening from age 40 years on breast cancer mortality at 10 years' follow-up: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2006; 368:2053-60. PubMed
 
American Cancer Society.  Cancer Facts & Figures 2005. Atlanta: American Cancer Soc; 2005.
 
Olsen O, Gøtzsche PC.  Cochrane review on screening for breast cancer with mammography [Letter]. Lancet. 2001; 358:1340-2. PubMed
 
Berry DA, Cronin KA, Plevritis SK, Fryback DG, Clarke L, Zelen M. et al.  Effect of screening and adjuvant therapy on mortality from breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 2005; 353:1784-92. PubMed
 
Paci E, Duffy SW, Giorgi D, Zappa M, Crocetti E, Vezzosi V. et al.  Are breast cancer screening programmes increasing rates of mastectomy? Observational study. BMJ. 2002; 325:418. PubMed
 
Mushlin AI, Kouides RW, Shapiro DE.  Estimating the accuracy of screening mammography: a meta-analysis. Am J Prev Med. 1998; 14:143-53. PubMed
 
Olivotto IA, Kan L, Coldman AJ.  False positive rate of screening mammography [Letter]. N Engl J Med. 1998; 339:560. PubMed
 
Hofvind S, Thoresen S, Tretli S.  The cumulative risk of a false-positive recall in the Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Program. Cancer. 2004; 101:1501-7. PubMed
 
Miller AB, Baines CJ, To T, Wall C.  Canadian National Breast Screening Study: 2. Breast cancer detection and death rates among women aged 50 to 59 years. CMAJ. 1992; 147:1477-88. PubMed
 
Miller AB, Baines CJ, To T, Wall C.  Canadian National Breast Screening Study: 1. Breast cancer detection and death rates among women aged 40 to 49 years. CMAJ. 1992; 147:1459-76. PubMed
 
Kerlikowske K, Grady D, Barclay J, Sickles EA, Ernster V.  Likelihood ratios for modern screening mammography. Risk of breast cancer based on age and mammographic interpretation. JAMA. 1996; 276:39-43. PubMed
 
Peeters PH, Verbeek AL, Hendriks JH, van Bon MJ.  Screening for breast cancer in Nijmegen. Report of 6 screening rounds, 1975-1986. Int J Cancer. 1989; 43:226-30. PubMed
 
Baxter NN, Virnig BA, Durham SB, Tuttle TM.  Trends in the treatment of ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004; 96:443-8. PubMed
 
Leaney BJ, Martin M.  Breast pain associated with mammographic compression. Australas Radiol. 1992; 36:120-3. PubMed
 
Keemers-Gels ME, Groenendijk RP, van den Heuvel JH, Boetes C, Peer PG, Wobbes TH.  Pain experienced by women attending breast cancer screening. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2000; 60:235-40. PubMed
 
Brew MD, Billings JD, Chisholm RJ.  Mammography and breast pain. Australas Radiol. 1989; 33:335-6. PubMed
 
Bakker DA, Lightfoot NE, Steggles S, Jackson C.  The experience and satisfaction of women attending breast cancer screening. Oncol Nurs Forum. 1998; 25:115-21. PubMed
 
Carney PA, Miglioretti DL, Yankaskas BC, Kerlikowske K, Rosenberg R, Rutter CM. et al.  Individual and combined effects of age, breast density, and hormone replacement therapy use on the accuracy of screening mammography. Ann Intern Med. 2003; 138:168-75. PubMed
 
Elmore JG, Miglioretti DL, Reisch LM, Barton MB, Kreuter W, Christiansen CL. et al.  Screening mammograms by community radiologists: variability in false-positive rates. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002; 94:1373-80. PubMed
 
Schwartz LM, Woloshin S, Sox HC, Fischhoff B, Welch HG.  US women's attitudes to false positive mammography results and detection of ductal carcinoma in situ: cross sectional survey. BMJ. 2000; 320:1635-40. PubMed
 
Smith RA, Cokkinides V, Eyre HJ.  American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer, 2006. CA Cancer J Clin. 2006; 56:11-25. PubMed
 
.  ACOG practice bulletin. Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists. Number 42, April 2003. Breast cancer screening. Obstet Gynecol. 2003; 101:821-31. PubMed
 
.  Screening for breast cancer: recommendations and rationale. Ann Intern Med. 2002; 137:344-6. PubMed
 
Ringash J.  Preventive health care, 2001 update: screening mammography among women aged 40-49 years at average risk of breast cancer. CMAJ. 2001; 164:469-76. PubMed
 

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You can Lead Committees to Publications, but You Can't Make Them Read and Understand!
Posted on April 14, 2007
Daniel B. Kopans
Harvard Medical School
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

You Can Lead Committees to Publications, but You Can't Make Them Read!

In their stated goal of providing women with facts so that they can make informed decisions about mammography screening, the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians has actually done just the opposite and provided dangerously misleading and scientifically unjustified misinformation on the subject. They are clearly uniformed about the topic of mammography screening. There is a clear, significant decrease in breast cancer deaths, for screening women beginning by the age of 40 both from randomized, controlled trials as well as when screening is introduced into the general population.

1. The age of 50 has no relevance for mammography screening. None of the parameters of screening changes abruptly at age 50 or any other age (1,2). Anyone claiming that age 50 has any relevance should be required to provide ungrouped data that support this.

2. The randomized, controlled trials of screening were trials by "invitation" so that they underestimate the benefit from screening (3).

3. The RCT were not designed to evaluate women ages 40-49 separately. The unplanned subgroup analyses of women ages 40-49 that have misled physicians and women were using data that lacked any statistical power (4). Nevertheless, with longer follow-up they show a, statistically significant, decrease in cancer deaths for these women of as high as 44% (actually higher than for women age s 50 and over).

4. The National Breast Screening Study of Canada (the only trial with more deaths among the screened women than among the controls, and whose data drop the benefit from 26% to 15%) violated the basic rules of randomized, controlled trials. The unblinded study design would never be allowed today since it permitted compromise of the trial's integrity, and the data clearly show it was compromised (1,5,6).

5. The author of the concept that screening saved lives for women in their forties because they reached the age of 50 has recanted his conclusion and now agrees that most of the benefit was due to screening before the age of 50 (1).

6. In Sweden, where accurate data are collected, the death rate has dropped by almost 50% for women in their forties, primarily due to screening.

7. The death rate from breast cancer has declined in the United States since 1990 primarily as a result of mammography screening and this includes women in their forties.

8. There are no data to prove a benefit if women are screened based on their personal risk for breast cancer.

9. Screening only women at increased risk for breast cancer will miss 75-80% of cancers.

10. All women (not just those in their forties) should be informed of the risks and benefits of any medical intervention.

Anyone who wishes to review the data on mammography screening should be required to understand the issues outlined in the accompanying reference list so that women get accurate information and not dangerous misinformation.

Daniel B. Kopans, M.D.

Professor of Radiology - Harvard Medical School Senior Radiologist "“ Breast Imaging Division "“ Massachusetts General Hospital

1. Kopans DB. Bias in the Medical Journals A Commentary. AJR 2005,; 185:176-177 accompanies Kopans DB. Informed Decision Making: age of 50 is arbitrary and has no demonstrated influence on breast cancer screening in women. Am J Roentgenology 2005;185:177-82

2. Kopans DB, Moore RH, McCarthy KA, Hall DA, Hulka C, Whitman GJ, Slanetz PJ, Halpern EF. Biasing the Interpretation of Mammography Screening Data By Age Grouping: Nothing Changes Abruptly at Age 50. The Breast Journal 1998;4:139-145.

3. Kopans DB. The Breast Cancer Screening Controversy: Lessons to be Learned. J Surg Onc 1998;67:143-150.

4. Kopans DB, Halpern E, Hulka CA. Statistical Power in Breast Cancer Screening Trials and Mortality Reduction Among Women 40-49 with Particular Emphasis on The National Breast Screening Study of Canada. Cancer 1994;74:1196-1203.

5. Kopans DB, Feig SA. The Canadian National Breast Screening Study: A Critical Review. AJR 1993;161:755-760.

6. Tarone RE. The Excess of Patients with Advanced Breast Cancers in Young Women Screened with Mammography in the Canadian National Breast Screening Study. Cancer 1995;75:997-1003.

Conflict of Interest:

I am an expert in screening mammography

Number needed to screen and preventable risk factors missing
Posted on May 5, 2007
Gudrun Kemper
Breast Cancer Action Germany
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

Unfortunately the guideline do not quantify any relation. How many women in the age group 40 - 49 years must be screened to prevent dying of breast cancer for one women? A guideline should include this figure. And how are those figures in proportion to the risks? How many biopsies, false -positive results etc. are to be expected in that group of women? Concerning the basically welcome communication of risks it must be remarked that the individual risk reduction can also be discussed. Especially mentionable issues are

- intake of hormones, e.g. HRT, hormonal contraception - possible contact with pesticides - physical activities, sports - obesity / overweight - diet / intake of fat from foodstuffs.

See your report too: http://bcag.twoday.net/

Sincerely yours

Gudrun Kemper Breast Cancer Action Germany www.bcaction.de

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

Mammography screening leads to an increase in mastectomies, not a decrease
Posted on May 25, 2007
Peter C Gøtzsche
Nordic Cochrane Centre
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

In an otherwise balanced guideline (1), the authors unfortunately quoted a very small and misleading study without a control group from Florence in Italy (2), when they claimed that screening is associated with a decrease in the absolute risk of mastectomy. This study builds on the false assumption that if screening increases the number of mastectomies, populations in which screening has been introduced should see a subsequent increase (3). The authors should have quoted the much more reliable evidence that exists, which was quoted by the authors of the systematic review in the same issue of Annals (4).

We have discussed this issue at length in our updated Cochrane review of mammography screening (5). The randomised trials showed a 20% increase in mastectomies, which could be overestimated as there has been a policy change towards more lumpectomies. However, the policy change has occurred much too slowly to explain such a large increase, and because of opportunistic screening in the control group, which was reported to have occurred for 24% of the women in the Malmö trial (6), this rate could also be underestimated. In Southeast Netherlands, for example, where screening was introduced from 1990 to 1998, the rate of breast-conserving surgery increased by 71% while the rate of mastectomy increased by 84% (7), despite the fact that this study did not include carcinoma in situ, which is often treated by mastectomy as the cell changes are often diffuse.

Because of the substantial overdiagnosis, about 30% (5), screening leads to more surgery and also to more mastectomies.

1. Qaseem A, Snow V, Sherif K, Aronson M, Weiss KB, Owens DK; Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians. Screening mammography for women 40 to 49 years of age: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med 2007; 146:511-5.

2. Paci E,Duffy SW,Giorgi D,ZappaM,Crocetti E,VezzosiV, et al. Are breast cancer screening programmes increasing rates of mastectomy? Observational study. BMJ 2002; 325:418.

3. Gøtzsche PC. Misleading paper on mastectomy rates in a screening programme. http://bmj.com/cgi/eletters/325/7361/418#24972, 26 Aug 2002.

4. Armstrong K, Moye E, Williams S, Berlin JA, Reynolds EE. Screening mammography in women 40 to 49 years of age: a systematic review for the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med 2007; 146:516-26.

5. Gøtzsche PC, Nielsen M. Screening for breast cancer with mammography. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD001877.

6. Andersson I, Aspegren K, Janzon L et al. Mammographic screening and mortality from breast cancer: the Malmo mammographic screening trial. BMJ 1988;297:943"“48.

7. Gøtzsche PC. Trends in breast-conserving surgery in the Southeast Netherlands: Comment on article by Ernst and colleagues Eur J Cancer 2001, 37, 2435-2440. Eur J Cancer 2002; 38:1288.

Conflict of Interest:

I have authored a Cochrane review that questions the value of mammography screening

Response
Posted on June 19, 2007
Amir Qaseem
No Affiliation
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

Our recommendations are based on thorough review of high quality scientific evidence for both the benefits and risks of screening mammography. We are recommending that all women between the age 40 to 49 have an opportunity to participate in the decision whether to screen or not with full information about the benefits and risks from screening mammography. The individualized decision about screening mammography should be tailored to each individual woman and include an assessment of a woman's risk for breast cancer, a discussion of the benefits and risk of screening mammography, and a discussion of a woman's concerns about breast cancer or risk associated with screening mammography. We support women getting screening mammograms as long as they are fully informed. If a woman decides to defer screening mammography, we recommend that the decision should be revisited every one to two years.

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

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Summary for Patients

Screening Mammography in Women Age 40 to 49 Years

The summary below is from the full reports titled “Screening Mammography in Women 40 to 49 Years of Age: A Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians” and “Screening Mammography in Women 40 to 49 Years of Age: A Systematic Review for the American College of Physicians.” They are in the 3 April 2007 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 146, pages 511-515 and 516-526). The first report was written by A. Qaseem, V. Snow, K. Sherif, M. Aronson, K.B. Weiss, and D.K. Owens, for the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians; the second report was written by K. Armstrong, E. Moye, S. Williams, J.A. Berlin, and E.E. Reynolds.

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