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Friday, November 20, 2009

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Discourages Breast Self-Examination In Latest Report; Advises Mammograms Begin at 50

Last week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a report calling for mammograms to begin at age 50. This is a significant change from prior recommendations that mammograms begin at age 40 and the reaction to this news has been confusion, controversy, and outrage. The USPSTF also surprisingly recommends against teaching breast self-examination (BSE).

Many leading experts are questioning whether significant evidence to support BSE was omitted or not taken into account by the USPSTF. One such organization is MammaCare; the results of whose mission to find the most effective procedure for manual detection of small breast lesions have been widely published. Here is a link to Mammacare’s release entitled "USPSTF omits critical evidence on breast-self-examination (BSE)". Research studies cited here do suggest that self-examination accounted for a substantial proportion of breast cancers detected and that BSE is associated with survival.

Mammacare concludes that “the cumulative and current biomedical data suggest strongly that women should not abandon their practice of self-exams nor delay learning how to perform proficient breast self-examinations. Evidence confirms that a large proportion of breast cancers are palpable and self-detected, that some breast cancers are mammographically invisible particularly in younger women and women with dense breast tissue, that the components of effective breast self-examination are now known and validated, that the skill can be learned and that women who learn and practice proficient breast examination possess an advantage in protecting their health and their lives.”

We urge you to share this evidence with women and clinicians. You are also welcome to forward the link, to all interested parties.

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Friday, November 20, 2009  

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