Posted on June 1, 2023

By Haleemah Atobiloye, Program Manager

We know many Breast Cancer Action members had questions about the recently released proposed changes to the USPSTF’s mammography screening guidelines.

And we want to be sure you saw our response and our critical, people-centered translation of the science entitled, “USPSTF’s Updated Mammography Screening Guidelines: Problems, Positives, and the Science.”

Here’s the long and short of it: The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is now recommending that people of average risk of breast cancer start routine mammography screening at age 40, not age 50.

This proposed change was made with good intentions, but won’t produce results that deliver on those intentions.

As we show in our piece:

“According to Medscape, ‘Two major factors prompted the change, explained [USPSTF member John Wong, MD]. One is that more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer in their 40s. The other is that a growing body of evidence showing that Black women get breast cancer younger, are more likely to die of breast cancer, and would benefit from earlier screening.’”

Mammography screening will not solve breast cancer disparities, and cannot reduce rates of breast cancer diagnosis. As we state clearly in the piece:

Breast Cancer Action holds two relevant stances with deep conviction:

  1. We need unbiased, patient-centered, and data-driven solutions specific to unique demographics and communities like young womxn and Black folx, due to stark rates of breast cancer disparities in diagnosis, access to treatment, and mortality.
  2. Mammography screening is not the tool that will get us there.

It’s important to remember that the USPSTF is a group of volunteers whose job is to make recommendations about screening specifically, not about potentially more effective, systemic level public health changes.

But as we clearly state: “We need to step back from the myopic view of mammography screening as the best and only tool in addressing breast cancer, and instead advocate for large-scale, structural public health changes.”

Read the piece to learn more about the new recommendation, how we can hold the potential positive changes with nuance, and more about the foundational science related to the need for better screening tools than mammography.

We are critical consumers of science because we want bold and effective structural health justice changes that will end this devastating disease.