NCI to refine statement of facton mammography screening

July 27, 1994

New policy expected to provide hard data The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is working with the AmericanCancer Society (ACS) to develop a new statement of fact on mammographyscreening for women aged 40 to 49. While the statement will

New policy expected to provide hard data

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is working with the AmericanCancer Society (ACS) to develop a new statement of fact on mammographyscreening for women aged 40 to 49. While the statement will clarifythe NCI's position, an NCI official said it does not representa step back from the agency's stance on screening for women inthe 40-to-49-year age group.

Beginning in 1987, the NCI recommended that women aged 40 to49 receive regular mammography screening. The NCI withdrew thatrecommendation late last year, sparking a deluge of criticismfrom many mammographers and imaging vendors (SCAN 12/15/93).

NCI officials said the recommendation was withdrawn becauseof a lack of clinical evidence proving that screening youngerwomen reduced mortality. The withdrawal of the NCI's recommendationput it at odds with groups such as the American Cancer Society,which recommends screening of women in the younger age group.To clarify the issue, NCI staff members earlier this year beganworking with the ACS on a new statement of fact on mammographyscreening. The new statement is intended to give women aged 40to 49 more guidance on whether or not they should be screened,according to NCI acting deputy director Edward Sondik.

The statement is being designed to fill the void created bythe absence of an official recommendation on mammography screening,Sondik said. NCI expects the statement to include hard data onthe risks of breast disease for women in the 40-to-49-year agegroup, as well as results from clinical studies on the effectivenessof mammography screening.

"We are not against screening (of women aged 40 to 49).We are not for screening. We believe that women should be giventhe facts," Sondik said. "It is for that reason thatwe are developing a statement of fact with the ACS."

The new statement of fact will replace one issued at the timethe NCI withdrew its recommendation on screening. That statementadvised women aged 40 to 49 to consult with their physician todetermine whether they should be screened. The NCI's recommendationthat women age 50 and up be screened regularly will not be affectedby the new statement, Sondik said.