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Most Doctors' Breast Cancer Advice May Be Out of Date

Most Doctors' Breast Cancer Advice May Be Out of Date
From TIME - April 10, 2017

Who needs a mammogramand when? These are questions that have vexed women for years now as scienceand the recommendations it informshas shifted. In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) advised that most women should start getting regular mammograms at age 50, rather than at age 40, prompting some groups to change their official guidelines, even as others kept their advice the same.

Today, confusion persistsand women may not be getting much clarity at the doctor's office, either. In a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that 81% of the doctors recommended mammography to women aged 40 to 44 and 88% recommended it to women aged 45 to 49 yearsadvice that goes against the latest federal recommendations.

Dr. Archana Radhakrishnan, clinical research fellow in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and her colleagues analyzed data from 2,000 doctors in the Breast Cancer Social Networks study, a national survey of primary care, internal medicine and family medicine physicians and gynecologists. They found that gynecologists were more likely than other physicians to recommend screening for women in their 40stheir professional physicians organization is one that continues advising women to get screened starting in their 40s.

Ironically, 23% said they trusted the USPSTF guidelines more than other breast-cancer screening recommendations. Doctors reported trusting a particular guideline, but then recommended screening more frequently than the guideline, says Radhakrishnan. What that highlights is that we still have a ways to go to understand what challenges doctors are facing when they implement clinical guidelines into practice. Those factors may include things like malpractice fears, if they dont recommend screening and breast cancer is missed, she says.

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