Battling Mammography Confusion

jay-baker-300-375This post was contributed by American College of Radiology (ACR) Breast Imaging Communications Committee Chair Jay Baker, MD.

Conflicting breast cancer screening guidelines from other organizations have caused confusion in women on when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them. The ACR addresses this year round, but particularly during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October).

Members of the breast imaging commission recently took part in radio media tour interviews with 27 stations across the country. Collectively, our message was heard by 5 million people.

On October 20 at 1pm Eastern Time, the ACR will hold a Facebook Live event on the Mammography Saves Lives (MSL) Facebook page. Among the more than 2,700 followers of the MSL page are more than 1000 patients (or patient advocates). This is an opportunity to speak directly to those we serve.

I encourage you to direct your patients to the MSL Facebook Live event. We will dish the latest on mammography benefits and risks. We will clear up misconceptions and accurately define terms they may see in the media – like: “overdiagnosis,” “false positive,” “dense breasts” and more.

I also invite you to check out the breast imaging resources section on the ACR site and the tools and resources section.

  • Patients need to know that mammography has helped reduce the breast cancer death rate by nearly 40 percent since the mid-1980s.
  • They need to know why we still advise them to start getting mammograms at age 40 and continue as long as they are in good health.
  • They need to know that Mammography Saves Lives.

Are you finding that many women are confused about when to get mammograms?

What are you doing in your practice to urge women to start screening at age 40?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).


Join the Stop Anthem Effort

moran4This post was contributed by ACR Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Health Policy Cynthia Moran.

Anthem, the nation’s largest Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance company, has stopped covering patients in 9 states for MRI and CT scans performed in hospital outpatient settings — unless the exam qualifies for an “exception.” Anthem will likely extend this plan to all 14 states in which it operates.

On Nov. 15, Anthem will start retroactive reviews of MRI and/or CT exams done in emergency departments in Missouri, Ohio and Kentucky. Anthem will deny imaging claims if it decides the case was not truly an emergency.

These Anthem policies place patients and doctors in the middle of a payment dispute between Blue Cross Blue Shield’s for-profit entity and hospitals. This adversely impacts patient care, disrupts the patient-physician relationship and worsens hospital bureaucracy — ultimately hurting patient care.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) is opposing this Anthem effort. Regardless of whether you practice in an office setting or hospital, you should oppose this Anthem policy which makes imaging a commodity going to the lowest bidder.

The College has created a toolkit of materials to help members in affected states push back against this blatant cost-cutting move. Please use these resources to help the ACR help us end this misguided Anthem effort.

I also urge you to contact the ACR with any specific example of how patient care is being negatively impacted in your department/hospital by the Anthem outpatient imaging policy.

Please email those examples to us at

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Setting the Pace on Imaging AI

COX_4225_Mike TilkinThis post was contributed by ACR Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer Mike Tilkin.

Artificial Intelligence for medical imaging is nowhere near the “Star Trek” scenario where machines autonomously diagnose and treat patients.  The technological and regulatory challenges to that potential future remain immense.

What is near is AI helping radiologists make better, more efficient diagnoses as part of the next generation of clinical decision support tools.  This was the consensus among AI scientists, vendors and researchers in Reston this week for the ACR Data Science Institute (DSI) Summit.


One of the ACR DSI primary missions is to promote strategies that enable vendors to leverage emerging AI technologies to help radiologists help patients. To do this, the DSI needs to engage vendors and other stakeholders early in the process. That is what we are doing. And we learned from the summit that this is what they want too.

There is a great desire for close radiologist involvement in defining the use cases, establishing the criteria for validation, and ensuring a useful clinical pathway for incorporation into the radiology workflow.IMG_2693

The DSI is committed to work in all of these areas, and the discussion confirmed that we are headed in the right direction.  More of these summits will be scheduled in the near future to ensure continued communication and collaboration in this emerging area.

Imaging AI has the potential to be an important tool in the radiologist’s advanced technology toolkit. Working together with all stakeholders, including patients, we are moving imaging AI forward. We can and will make medicine better.

  • What are some use cases where you see that imaging AI can help radiologists do their jobs better (more efficiently)?

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