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NCI Statement on Breast Cancer Screening

  • Posted: November 16, 2009

NCI appreciates the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's careful review and analysis of the evidence regarding breast cancer screening for women at average risk. The take-away message is that each woman needs to consider her individual benefits and risks and discuss them with her health care provider before making a decision on when to start screening mammography and how often to get one. The Task Force report concludes that screening mammography remains an important, effective tool for early detection of breast cancer. It also indicates, however, that the evidence of benefit might vary, according to age and individual risk factors.

NCI has had screening mammography recommendations for many years, and we need to evaluate them in light of the Task Force's recommendations -- for all women, not only for those of average risk. It's too early for us to make any decisions right now. NCI's primary role as a biomedical research agency is to generate scientific knowledge that can be used by the Task Force and other organizations in their deliberations and recommendations. Today's report reflects the fact that more questions need to be answered, and that will be NCI's central focus going forward.