Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Avon Foundation's Response

We receive emails from the Avon Foundation frequently because of being involved in the annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte. This is one we'd like to share with everyone because it's a heated discussion in the news and on our minds...

Avon Foundation for Women Response to New U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Mammography Recommendations

The Avon Foundation for Women strongly supports current mammography screening guidelines that have contributed to a 30% decrease in breast cancer mortality since 1990 when mammography screening became routine.

On November 16, 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended changing current mammography screening guidelines to begin biennial screening in women aged 50, discontinue screening for women over 75 years of age, and no longer promote self breast exam.

The Avon Foundation for Women advocates for empowering women of all ages by ensuring they have access to medical experts with whom to discuss breast health and the knowledge to make informed decisions with their doctors on breast health care, early detection screening for breast cancer, breast cancer risk and risk reduction strategies.
  • The Avon Foundation continues to support the guidelines recommended by expert groups American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and others including that women get to know their own bodies through breast self awareness and immediately report any changes to their doctor, begin annual screening mammography at age 40, and continue annual screening mammography for as long as the woman is in good health.
  • Doctors must take time to conduct individualized risk assessments and provide appropriate guidance to women of all ages. It is more important than ever for women and doctors to have a comprehensive dialogue about the benefits, limitations, and potential harms of mammography, the risks of delaying mammography, and the value of being familiar with ones own body.
  • Educational support, insurance coverage and government programs for early detection must not be jeopardized, as reductions would dramatically influence a woman’s breast health care decisions. The November 18 statement by Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius reiterating that the government’s policies remain unchanged and continue to support current mammography screening guidelines was welcome news to those like the Avon Foundation for Women who were concerned about possible ramifications of the USPSTF recommendations.
  • The lack of access to care for medically vulnerable populations continues to be a priority for the Avon Foundation. One third of all women who qualify for screening are already not being screened due to lack of access and barriers to screening and treatment. Resources to link women to providers include the Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund (www.avonbreastcare.org) and Avon Foundation Safety Net hospitals (www.avonfoundation.org/resourceguide).
  • The new USPSTF recommendations address concerns with current mammography technology and the level of scientific understanding about breast cancer disease progression, aggressiveness, and likelihood of metastasis. The Avon Foundation for Women continues its commitment to fund cutting-edge research to develop new tests for more accurate risk assessment, to better determine which women benefit from mammography, ultrasound or MRI screening, and accelerate advances in tumor analysis technology, to better determine the appropriate level of aggressiveness for treatment. Information about Avon Foundation funded grants in these categories can be accessed via this link, or visit the funding webpage for a full grant listing.

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