The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) have released a new set of guidelines, recommending that every woman take a risk assessment starting at the age of 30 to see if screening earlier than the age of 40 is needed. This is particularly true for the African-American population as they recognize that these women are at an increased risk for breast cancer. The ACR and SBI instituted these recommendations in order to help save more African-American women and others (which also include the Ashkenazi Jewish population) who are at high risk.
Below are a few facts on which the ACR and SBI based their recommendations:
- African-American women are 42 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than non-Hispanic white women despite roughly equal incidence rates.
- African-American women have a two-fold higher risk of aggressive – “triple negative” – breast tumors.
- African-American women are less likely to be diagnosed with stage I breast cancer, but twice as likely to die of early breast cancers.
- African-American women have a higher risk of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations than those of Western European ancestry. Carriers of either mutation are at a much higher risk for breast cancer.
- Since 1990, breast cancer death rates have decreased by 23 percent in African-American women, compared to 43 percent in Caucasian women.
There are a few free risk assessment calculators available online:
- MidMichigan Health’s online risk assessment for those over the age of 35
- A free online risk calculator for those 30 – 34 years old
Any woman having a screening mammogram at a MidMichigan Health facility will also receive a free risk assessment.
The new guidelines also include a recommendation that women with a personal history of breast cancer should be screened with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to an annual mammogram.
For women at average risk, the ACR and SBI continue to recommend a yearly screening mammogram starting at the age of 40.
For more information regarding the proven effectiveness of regular mammography screening at reducing breast cancer deaths, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org, www.mammographysaveslives.org or www.endtheconfusion.org.
Lindsay Zeeb, M.D., board-certified diagnostic radiologist, is the medical director of Breast Imaging and the Center for Women’s Health at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. As a breast imaging specialist, Dr. Zeeb reads and interprets the images produced by mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), then makes recommendations for further diagnostic testing and treatment. She also conducts image-guided breast biopsies. She believes that patients play a pivotal role in the battle against breast cancer and that keeping up with yearly mammograms can help diagnose cancer early, when it is most curable.