Canadian Screening Outcomes Call into Question Current Canadian Task Force Guidelines
A study co-authored by DB-i Medical Advisory Board member Dr. Seely just out: The Impact of Organised Screening Programs on Breast Cancer Stage at Diagnosis for Canadian Women Aged 40-40 and 50-59. In 2011, the guidelines changed from those in 2001 which stated, “Upon reaching the age of 40 Canadian women should be informed of the potential benefits and risks of screening mammography and assisted in deciding at what age they wish to initiate the manoeuvre” to 2011 Canadian Task Force guidelines, ”For women aged 40–49 years, we recommend not routinely screening with mammography.” As a result, only 4 provincial screening programs in Canada currently allow women to self-refer for mammography starting at age 40.
The study evaluated changes in the incidence of breast cancer by stage from 2011 to 2017. Due to reduced mammographic screening for women in their 40s, over the 6 years of the study, the authors found:
- Women in their 40s had a 13.6% decrease in incidence of stage I and a significant 12.6% increase in stage II disease.
- For women in their 50s, the incidence of stage II disease increased by 3.1%
- In provinces that did not continue to have organised screening programs for women 40-49, there was a 10.3% increase in stage IV breast cancer in women 50-59 over the six years.
The findings support the recently updated National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines that recommend annual screening mammography for average-risk women beginning at age 40.