November 17, 2009
Local physicians oppose new breast cancer recommendations
Adventist Midwest Health’s breast cancer experts spoke out against a controversial new recommendation that women delay routine breast screenings until age 50. Physicians in multiple specialties who treat breast cancer patients at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and affiliated hospitals continue to recommend annual screening mammograms for women starting at age 40, which remains the recommendation of the American Cancer Society.
“To put it simply, catching breast cancer early through mammography saves lives,” said Dr. Sara Anschuetz, a diagnostic radiologist who treats patients at all four Adventist Midwest Health hospitals in suburban Chicago. “Telling women to delay routine screenings until they turn 50 will miss potentially curable breast cancer in younger women.”
Laura Castallante is grateful that her breast cancer was caught early enough to be treated. An anomaly was discovered when the 45-year-old Downers Grove resident underwent her first-ever screening mammogram just last month at Adventist Midwest Health’s DuPage Imaging Center. Further tests identified a cancerous growth and Castallante will undergo surgery Friday.
“If these new guidelines had come out two months ago, I would’ve put off my mammogram for another five years,” Castallante said. “Getting a mammogram saved my life.”
While mammography is far from perfect, it is credited with being the major factor in the declining mortality rate from breast cancer, said Anschuetz, who began practicing medicine in 1987 and began specializing in breast imaging in 1996. Experts estimate that up to 40 percent of years of life saved by mammographic screenings are of women age 40 to 49.
Of breast cancer patients diagnosed at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital in the past five years, more than 25 percent were under age 50; of breast cancer patients diagnosed at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital in the past five years, more than 22 percent were under 50. This represents more than 460 patients who might not have been diagnosed and treated if they waited until they turned 50 to get screening mammograms, according to Clarissa Moholick, regional manager of cancer data management at Adventist Midwest Health.
The guidelines issued Monday by the government-sponsored U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are at odds with the American Cancer Society’s recommendations, which could leave many women confused, Anschuetz said.
Earlier this month, Adventist Hinsdale and Adventist La Grange Memorial hospitals were accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). Only seven hospitals in Illinois have attained this achievement; Adventist Hinsdale Hospital is the only accredited hospital in DuPage County. The accreditation lasts three years.
This accomplishment means Adventist Hinsdale and Adventist La Grange Memorial hospitals:
• are fully qualified to offer the full spectrum of interdisciplinary care to patients with breast disease,
• afford patients the most currently available forms of evaluation, treatment, and follow-up care,
• have passed a rigorous evaluation by independent clinical surveyors who have awarded their nationally recognized seal of approval.
Accreditation by the NAPBC is only given to those centers that have voluntarily committed to provide the highest level of quality breast care and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performance.
During the survey process, the center must demonstrate compliance with standards established by the NAPBC for treating women who are diagnosed with the full spectrum of breast disease. The standards include proficiency in the areas of: center leadership, clinical management, research, community outreach, professional education, and quality improvement. Adventist Hinsdale and Adventist La Grange Memorial hospitals met all 27 standards for accreditation.
“Achieving NAPBC accreditation underscores our firm commitment to offer patients high-quality care and every significant advantage in their battle against breast disease,” said Dr. Patricia Madej, an oncologist who treats patients at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.
The NAPBC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to the improvement of the quality of care and monitoring of outcomes of patients with diseases of the breast. This mission is pursued through standard-setting, scientific validation, and patient and professional education. Its board membership includes professionals from 15 national organizations that reflect the full spectrum of breast care.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2009, 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed and 40,170 women will die from breast cancer.
Receiving care at a NAPBC-accredited center ensures patients access to:
• comprehensive care, including a full range of state-of-the-art services,
• a multidisciplinary team approach to coordinate the best treatment options,
• information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options, and
• quality breast care close to home.
For more information about the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, visit
their Web site at www.accreditedbreastcenters.org.