At an annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America on December 2, studies were released that show annual breast screenings for women over the age of 40 are both recommended and necessary. Conducted by Dr. Stephen Feig, director of breast imaging at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, the studies address an issue often debated by cancer prevention specialists – when and how often screenings should be administered. One of Feig’s studies has shown that annual mammograms for women ages 40 to 49 could reduce the rate death from breast cancer by 35 to 40 percent in contrast to a 25 to 30 percent decrease in fatalities for women who are screened every two years. Both the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association condone annual mammography.
These recommendations however, contradict the views of The National Cancer Institute which claims that Feig’s research is not yet reliable enough to recommend administering regular screenings. Dr. Barnett Kramer, deputy director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at the National Cancer Institute notes that there is ambiguity involved in the research conducted on women in the 40 to 50-year-old age group. Kramer also claims that mammograms are expensive and may produce stressful false- positive results.
Two other studies released by Dr. Feig advise annual screenings for younger women under the age of forty.