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April 2, 1997

Other Voices Weigh In on Mammography Decision

JAMA. 1997;277(13):1027-1028. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540370017007

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IN YET another attempt to resolve the controversy over when women in their 40s should be recommended to undergo routine mammographic screening for breast cancer, the advisory board of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has set up a subcommittee charged with preparing a set of recommendations intended to help in making the difficult choice about whether and when to have a mammogram.

From the comments at a press conference held after the board's decision, what will probably emerge is individualized advice, not blanket recommendations. There are unlikely to be firm, definitive guidelines on precisely when to start routine mammographic screening. This result will not satisfy those who want clear-cut answers or third-party payers unwilling to reimburse for any procedure without authoritative evidence of its value.

The subcommittee's recommendations will be completed "in a timely manner, in the next couple of months before the board meets in June," said Barbara K.