AAMC to Host Free Breast Imaging Community Forum

AAMC to Host Free Breast Imaging Community Forum

It was hard to miss the news reports, commentary, analysis following the November 2009 mammogram controversy, set into motion upon release of the screening mammogram recommendations of the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) on November 16, 2009.

To quickly summarize: the task force – after analyzing both current mammography research and medical data – concluded that women ages 40 to 49 may not benefit from yearly screening mammograms.  Instead, the task force notes, women of this age range should instead consult with their physician to determine whether or not screening mammograms would be appropriate.  For women ages 50 to 74, the Task Force concluded, routine mammography screenings are recommended every two years.

The problem, the task force said, rests with the false positives that can lead to unnecessary stress or additional procedures.  (Note: to hear radiologist Daina Pack, M.D., discuss the false positive issue, click here.)

The medical staff of the AAMC Breast Center and DeCesaris Cancer Institute publically opposed the USPSTF recommendations.

In an open editorial which appeared in the November 24, 2009, edition of the Annapolis Capital, Barry Meisenberg, M.D., director of the AAMC DeCesaris Cancer Institute, wrote that the Task Force made a “bad call,” adding: “Breast cancer is not rare in the 40-49 age groups, being diagnosed in one of every 69 women by the end of their 40s.”  (To read the editorial, click here.)

Dr. Meisenberg wrote, “The idea of limiting screening to high-risk groups is ill-advised.  While such a policy would help reduce false positives, this recommendation will not detect enough cancers, since most breast cancer occurs in women who are not known to be at high risk.”

Understandably, much of the public remains unsure which screening recommendations are appropriate for themselves or their loved ones.

AAMC wants to help.  The medical center will host a free Breast Imaging Community Forum on Monday, January 18, 2010, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., on the seventh floor of the AAMC Health Sciences Pavilion, 2000 Medical Parkway in Annapolis.  To register, contact askAAMC at (443) 481-4000.  Speakers include AAMC breast surgeon Lorraine Tafra, M.D., radiologist Daina Pack, M.D., and medical oncologist Barry Meisenberg, M.D., director of the AAMC Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute.

“In the wake of the recent recommendation changes by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, the public was understandably left confused and in some cases, angry,” said Dr. Meisenberg. “Our job as regional experts is to welcome in the public, and to provide the commentary and conversations that will eliminate that confusion.  This forum will allow us to do just that.”

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