Mammography rates decline following USPSTF guidelines revision

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that fewer women are getting both annual and biennial mammograms since the United States Preventive Services Task Force revised its mammography guidelines in 2009.

Researchers from the department of population medicine at Harvard Medical School looked at mammography trends in 5.5 million women aged 40 to 64 enrolled in a large national health insurer.

Their objective was to assess the impact of the USPSTF 2009 recommendation that women 40 to 49 be screened only if their personal and family histories showed an elevated risk for breast cancer and that women 50 to 74 be screened biennially.

Between 2009 and 2012, annual mammography rates for women 40 to 49 years of age declined by 9.9%. The reduction in screening rates was lowest among black women (-2.3%) and highest among Asian women (-17.4%).  Annual mammography rates among women aged 50 to 64 years declined by 6.1%.

Biennial rates also declined: Among women aged 40 to 49, biennial mammography rates declined by 6.1% and by 6.2% among women aged 50 to 64.

The authors concluded that reductions in biennial mammography could be an unintended consequence of the revised guidelines.