Six years ago, the American Cancer Society lashed out against suggestions that most women could wait to get mammograms until age 50.
At the time, the recommendation was mammograms begin at 40. Delaying mammograms, the cancer society said, will lead to more women dying. Now, the American Cancer Society is itself recommending women start getting mammograms later.
However, Las Vegas surgeon Dr. Josette Spotts, who is with the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, disagrees with that decision.
She told KNPR's State of Nevada that women should continue to get mammograms starting at age 40 and she says they should get them yearly, not every two years.
"We've always preached early diagnosis," Dr. Spotts said. "We want to find it at an early stage and the earliest form of breast cancer we have is what's called ductal carcinoma in situ which is a non-invasive breast cancer, which can be exclusively almost, only found on a mammogram."
Spotts acknowledges that mammograms are not perfect, and that false positive results on the scan can lead to unnecessary biopsies. However, she believes it is still better to find cancer early.
"I would rather find a cancer that is considered a Stage 0 cancer by mammography than to wait two years and find it when its an invasive cancer because then that can effect the patient's life"
Dr. Spotts also disagrees with the recommendation that women stop performing self-breast exams. She said she has had patients who have found a lump that way and she recommends women continue doing monthly exams.
Dr. Josette Spotts, surgeon, Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada
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