Letters to the Editor

New mammogram standards are flawed

We, as physicians and experts in breast cancer, agree with the longstanding recommendations of the American Cancer Society for screening mammography, beginning with annual exams at age 40. We disagree with the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recent change in guidelines. We fear that this will discourage women from having mammograms and result in unnecessary deaths from breast cancer.

We believe their flawed analysis of old data underestimates the number of lives saved by mammography. Furthermore, modern digital technology has improved cancer detection in this age group. Even if one accepts a mortality reduction of 15 percent put forth by the USPSTF (rather than 30-40 percent, as has been shown in multiple randomized controlled trials), we feel those lives are worth saving.

They estimate that 1,904 women in their 40s must be screened to save one life, which they find unacceptable. For women in their 50s, 1,339 women must be screened, and they deem this acceptable. We agree with the American Cancer Society that "the lifesaving benefits of screening outweigh any potential harms." At least 40 percent of years of life saved by mammographic screening are of women aged 40-49.

We feel that all lives saved are important, at any age.

Katherine E. Dee, M.D.

Craig Hanson, M.D.

Rodney Hopkins, M.D.

Janis Mercker, M.D.

Seattle Breast Center

Kara Carlson, M.D.

Jennifer Shook, M.D.

Julie Adam, M.D.

Hal Olsson, M.D.

Robert Hawkins, M.D.

Evergreen Breast Center, Kirkland, WA

Nancy Neubauer, M.D.

Tom Ruebel, M.D.

Brandon Liu, M.D.

Virginia Eschbach, M.D.

Providence-Everett Comprehensive Breast Center

Eric Rosen, M.D.

Dae Hee Bang, M.D.

Smita Patel, M.D.

Mariann Drucker, M.D.

Swedish Breast Care Center

Mary Kelly, M.D.

Sally Browning, M.D.

Swedish-Cherry Hill Comprehensive Breast Center

Jay Parikh, M.D.

Betsey Cotter, M.D.

Women's Diagnostic Imaging Center, Swedish

Jay Kloby, M.D.

Elizabeth Sanders, M.D.

Breast Diagnostic Center

Khai Tran, M.D.

John Peixotto, M.D.

Andrea Manzo, M.D.

Jeana Oh, M.D.

Xiaoming Chen, M.D.

Tara Anthes, M.D.

Carol Milgard Breast Center, Tacoma, WA

Douglas Lee, M.D.

J. Samuel Tolman, M.D.

George Birchfield, M.D.

David Dong, M.D.

Puget Sound Cancer Center

Alison Perrin, M.D.

Paula Denevan, M.D.

Mark Brakstad, M.D.

Northwest Surgical Specialists

Marita Acheson, M.D.

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