MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

Contact: Vicky Agnew
MUSC Hollings Cancer Center
Phone: 843-792-0376
Mobile: 843-697-6208

Hollings Cancer Center Recommends Yearly Mammography for Women 40 and Older

Risk Assessment by a Trained Health Care Provider Also Important

The Comprehensive Breast Care team at Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina strongly opposes the screening mammography recommendations released Monday by the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF).  We believe that the data presented are not compelling enough to abandon evidence-based, validated screening mammography guidelines.   

In the USPSTF analysis, screening mammography has been shown to reduce mortality in every age group, including women age 40-49 and women over 74 years old. This is compelling.

Admittedly, this comes at the cost of false positive results and additional procedures.

In the group most at risk for this, those 40-49 years old, five women will undergo an additional biopsy procedure for every breast cancer detected.  This screening schedule, however, will reduce breast cancer deaths by 15 percent in that age group.  

To be most efficient with resources, the USPSTF deems it acceptable to lower the sensitivity of a national screening mammography program from current detection rates of 90 percent of all breast cancer to 70 percent. In an era of limited resources, when early detection and prevention are critical for cost savings, this recommendation is ill-advised.

Furthermore, the task force recommends that women undergo yearly risk assessments to evaluate need for a mammogram. Unfortunately, risk assessment is rarely performed; and a significant gap in health care education from providers remains. 

Additionally, the task force did not account for the predicted shift in disease progression that will occur. With earlier detection, we have made tremendous strides in preserving women's breasts, decreasing the need for mastectomy (removal of the breast) by over 40 percent in the past 20 years.  If we allow breast cancers to grow undetected, this will result in more mastectomies and increasing use of chemotherapy. 

Unlike other health care systems that were included in this analysis, the U.S. health care system is not structured to ensure that women will be compliant with these recommendations.  Much of the success of our current screening recommendations lies in their elegant simplicity. 

We at Hollings Cancer Center are joined by our colleagues in the American Cancer Society, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American College of Radiology, the American Society of Breast Disease, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in our opposition to these current recommendations and our continued advocacy on behalf of our female patients.   

About Hollings Cancer Center
Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and the largest academic-based cancer program in South Carolina. The cancer center and has more than $35M in cancer research funding and more than 200 people are currently participating on a cancer clinical trial at HCC.  

Hollings Cancer Center offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies and surgical techniques and has multidisciplinary clinics that involve surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists and many other specialists seeing patients under one roof.  Multidisciplinary care is provided in disease specific clinics such as thoracic, breast, head & neck, genitourinary, gastrointestinal, hematological, and pediatric cancers. For more information, please visit




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