Breast Cancer Screening for Women at Average Risk: 2015 Guideline Update From the American Cancer Society | Breast Cancer | JAMA | JAMA Network
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Special Communication
October 20, 2015

Breast Cancer Screening for Women at Average Risk: 2015 Guideline Update From the American Cancer Society

Author Affiliations
  • 1Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
  • 2Louisiana State University School of Public Health, New Orleans
  • 3University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
  • 4Patient advocate, Troy, New York
  • 5Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston
  • 6University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • 7University of California, San Francisco, and San Francisco VA Medical Center
  • 8Masonic Cancer Center and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • 9Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 10Independent retired physician and patient advocate
  • 11University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville
  • 12American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia
JAMA. 2015;314(15):1599-1614. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.12783

Importance  Breast cancer is a leading cause of premature mortality among US women. Early detection has been shown to be associated with reduced breast cancer morbidity and mortality.

Objective  To update the American Cancer Society (ACS) 2003 breast cancer screening guideline for women at average risk for breast cancer.

Process  The ACS commissioned a systematic evidence review of the breast cancer screening literature to inform the update and a supplemental analysis of mammography registry data to address questions related to the screening interval. Formulation of recommendations was based on the quality of the evidence and judgment (incorporating values and preferences) about the balance of benefits and harms.

Evidence Synthesis  Screening mammography in women aged 40 to 69 years is associated with a reduction in breast cancer deaths across a range of study designs, and inferential evidence supports breast cancer screening for women 70 years and older who are in good health. Estimates of the cumulative lifetime risk of false-positive examination results are greater if screening begins at younger ages because of the greater number of mammograms, as well as the higher recall rate in younger women. The quality of the evidence for overdiagnosis is not sufficient to estimate a lifetime risk with confidence. Analysis examining the screening interval demonstrates more favorable tumor characteristics when premenopausal women are screened annually vs biennially. Evidence does not support routine clinical breast examination as a screening method for women at average risk.

Recommendations  The ACS recommends that women with an average risk of breast cancer should undergo regular screening mammography starting at age 45 years (strong recommendation). Women aged 45 to 54 years should be screened annually (qualified recommendation). Women 55 years and older should transition to biennial screening or have the opportunity to continue screening annually (qualified recommendation). Women should have the opportunity to begin annual screening between the ages of 40 and 44 years (qualified recommendation). Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good and they have a life expectancy of 10 years or longer (qualified recommendation). The ACS does not recommend clinical breast examination for breast cancer screening among average-risk women at any age (qualified recommendation).

Conclusions and Relevance  These updated ACS guidelines provide evidence-based recommendations for breast cancer screening for women at average risk of breast cancer. These recommendations should be considered by physicians and women in discussions about breast cancer screening.