Responding in Force

This post is contributed by Debra Monticciolo, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission.

This week the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) doubled down on its 2009 recommendation firmly supporting only biennial mammograms for women aged 50–74. They said women 40–49 should talk to their doctors; however, they didn’t outright recommend this age group get tested due to anxiety over test results or further testing to clarify diagnosis.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) and every other major medical organization expert in breast cancer care recommend that women 40 and older get screened every year. The College and the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) assembled our troops (members) and responded in force.

Our position — that adopting the USPSTF approach would result in thousands of unnecessary deaths and more invasive an expensive treatments for survivors — appeared in nearly every major U.S. newspaper. Radiologists were highlighted on network TV newscasts and on network and major market radio. We submitted letters to the editor for the Washington Post and other papers. We distributed talking points to members, so they could speak to their local media. (See related coverage on Facebook and Twitter.)

The College created this poster for radiologists to put in their waiting rooms and lobbies – which goes well with this infographic for use on practice and department websites – and other breast imaging resources.

These efforts built on ACR-backed inclusion of provisions in the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act – which barred any changes to mandatory mammography insurance coverage for two years (based on these Task Force recommendations). Such public arena advocacy works hand-in-glove with ACR efforts on Capitol Hill and in state houses nationwide.

Here is yet another reason why the College is so vital to our profession and our practices. We all must continue to work together to improve radiology, safeguard access to care and move our profession into the future.

We want to hear: What steps did you take regarding the USPSTF recommendations? Did you speak with your local reporters and get quoted or appear in local broadcasts?

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