Canadian Task Force Updates Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Ainsley Moore MD, CFPC, MSc(HB), MSc(CLinEpi) Cand
Associate Professor,McMaster University
Associate Editor,Canadian Medical Education Journal
Vice-Chairof the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care
Dr. Moore

Dr. Ainsley Moore MD, CFPC, MSc(HB), MSc(CLinEpi) Cand
Associate Professor,McMaster University
Associate Editor,Canadian Medical Education Journal
Vice-Chair,  Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care

MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: The Canadian Task Force for Preventive Health Care has updated its Breast Cancer Screening Guideline. It places an emphasis on shared decision-making between women and their health care provider so that women can make an informed decision based on how they prioritize the benefits and harms of screening with mammography.  

Screening may identify breast cancer earlier and lead to a reduction in breast cancer mortality; however, i talso has known harms such as false positive results, further testing including biopsy, and over diagnosis leading to unnecessary treatment with associated complications.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: An updated review of the evidence continues to show a close balance between potential benefits and harms of breast cancer screening; this balance appears to be less favourable for younger women than for women aged 50 to 74 years.

A separate review conducted for this guideline on women’s values and preferences about mammography screening suggests that many women aged 40 to 49 years would choose not to be screened if they were aware of the outcomes for their age group. On the other hand, women aged 50 to 74 years are more likely to choose screening given their more favourable balance of benefits and harms

The recommendations:

  • The TaskForce provides conditional recommendations against screening women age 40 to49 years who are not at increased risk of breast cancer, low certainty evidence shows a small potential reduction in breast cancer death along with higher risk of harms including false positive results, further testing including possible breast biopsy and overdiagnosis leading to unnecessary treatment with associated complications. Recommendations are conditional upon how an individual woman from this age group weighs the benefits and harms of screening
  • The TaskForce provides conditional recommendations in favour of screening women aged 50 to 74 years who are not at increased risk of breast cancer, very low-certainty evidence suggests a modest reduction in risk of breast cancer death and, while the risk of harms of screening are lower than for younger women, it remains a concern.  Recommendations are conditional upon who an individual woman of this age group weighs the benefits and harms of screening

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The Task Force provides information on the benefits and harms of breast cancer screening and has developed tools on their website to help guide the discussion between women and their health care provider so that they can make the decision that is best for themFor more details on the Task Force’s findings and recommendations and patient tools, please visit: canadiantaskforce.ca

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: More and better-quality evidence is needed on the impact of breast cancer screening for women of all ages.  Additional studies on Canadian women’s values and preferences for screening that are based on accurate estimates of both benefits and harms conducted in a transparent and easily comparable manner would assist in guiding future recommendations.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The Public Health Agency of Canada established theCanadian Task Force for Preventive Health Care to make recommendations forCanadian primary care providers on a broad array of preventive health issues.The members of the Task Force were selected for their expertise in Preventive health care delivered in primary care settings. Task Force members adhere to the highest ethical standards including the avoidance of professional conflicts of interest in order to ensure the scientific credibility of its recommendations.

Citation:

Recommendations on screening for breast cancer in women aged 40–74 years who are not at increased risk for breast cancer

Scott Klarenbach, Nicki Sims-Jones, Gabriela Lewin, Harminder Singh, Guylène Thériault, Marcello Tonelli, Marion Doull, Susan Courage, Alejandra Jaramillo Garcia and Brett D. Thombs; for the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care

CMAJ December 10,2018 190 (49) E1441-E1451; DOI:https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.180463

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