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Study: USPSTF Mammogram Recs Based on Inaccurate Information

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The number of women who must undergo mammograms to prevent one breast cancer death is lower than stated by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, researchers found.

The number of women who must undergo mammograms in order to prevent one breast cancer death is lower than stated by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

The USPSTF used incorrect numbers in their calculations, said researchers, which were then used in 2009 to recommend that women aged 40 to 49 years not receive annual mammograms. It was claimed that the potential harm from the tests outweighed potential benefits. The new recommendation suggested that women consult with their physician regarding when screening should be done.

The erroneous calculation was made on the number of women who were invited to undergo a screening mammography, not the actual number of women who went through with the procedure, according to researchers R. Edward Hendrick and Mark A. Helvie.

The modeling used by the USPSTF showed that 746 women needed to be screened to save one life. When the number of women who underwent the mammogram was used instead of the total number, researchers found that only 84 women needed to be screened annually, between the ages of 40 and 84 years, to save one life.

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