The American Medical Association (AMA) has joined the list of major medical associations that have adopted policies that contradict the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations for screening mammography. AMA updated its screening mammography recommendations at its annual policymaking meeting June 19.
The updated policy recommends that all women should be eligible for screening mammography and also supports insurance coverage for screening mammography.
After the USPSTF issued its controversial screening mammography recommendations in November 2009, AMA struck a somewhat neutral tone and offered the following recommendation: every woman age 40 years and older who wants a routine screening mammogram and whose physician believes it is clinically appropriate should receive one, regardless of her insurance coverage status.
At its annual House of Delegates meeting, however, the organization revisited the issue and adopted the revised policy.
"Early detection of breast cancer increases the odds of a patient's survival, and mammography screenings are an important tool in discovering this cancer," said AMA Board Member Patrice A. Harris, MD, in a release. "All patients are different and have varying degrees of cancer risk, and patients should regularly talk with their doctors to determine if mammography screening is right for them."
The policy referred to the mortality reduction benefit of screening mammography and small, but not inconsequential associated risks, including false positive and false negative results and overdiagnosis. It also expressed support for the efforts of the professional, voluntary, and government organizations to educate physicians and the public regarding the value of screening mammography in reducing breast cancer mortality, as well as its limitations. In addition, AMA recommended physicians remain alert to new epidemiological findings regarding screening mammography and encouraged the periodic reconsideration of these recommendations as more epidemiological data become available.
Other major medical groups, including the American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology, Society of Breast Imaging and American Society of Breast Disease, recommend annual screening mammography beginning at age 40.
For more about the USPSTF guidelines, please read "USPSTF Guidelines Two Years Later: The Fallout Continues," in Health Imaging magazine.