Specialty Groups Praise AMA Mammography Recommendations, Say They Should Have Been Consulted Earlier

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A pair of AMA policy positions announced yesterday—recommending formally that women should begin having routine mammography at age 40, and that insurers should adjust their policies to reflect this—were met with praise from imaging and disease specialty groups, who added that they should have been a part of the process from the beginning.

ACR underscored the announcement by pointing out that broader screening initiatives lowered the breast cancer death rate some 30 percent since the 1990s.

“Every major medical organization with demonstrated expertise in breast cancer care…recommend[s] that all women have yearly mammograms beginning at age 40,” read a statement from the group.

The 40-year-old benchmark is upheld by professional societies including ACOG, the ACS, the American Society of Disease, and the Society of Breast Imaging, ACR said.

“Government and insurers should not get in the way of this care,” said Paul Ellenbogen, who chairs the ACR Board of Chancellors, in the same statement.

Despite the fact that these groups have long recommended that women begin mammograms at age 40, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) had not sought their recommendation in formulating its guidelines-- which in 2009 suggested mammograms for women aged 50 and older--said another ACR representative at the AMA convention.

According to the Internal Medicine News Digital Network, interventional radiologist Arl Van Moore Jr., chair of the Strategic Radiology group, told the AMA legislative body that “none of the recognized experts in the field were contacted, to the best of our knowledge.”

“All patients are different and have varying degrees of cancer risk, and patients should regularly talk with their doctors to determine if mammography screening is right for them,” said Patrice A. Harris in an AMA press release from the event.

Among other announcements from the convention, the AMA also announced that it will examine the possibility of foregoing ICD-10 coding, the adoption date for which has since been pushed back twice, in favor of ICD-11.