Screening Exams

What is a "screening" exam? A screening examination is one that is done on asymptomatic patients in order to "catch" a process early enough to intervene and hopefully avoid complications in the future. In the non-medical world, you might check your gutters every 6 months to make sure leaves haven't built up or check your oil with a dipstick at the gas station every month. In your personal life, you may remember being screened for scoliosis or for your vision. Screening exams are important for several types of conditions, and large scientific trials have often proved their validity.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the cancer with the highest incidence. That means more new cases of breast cancer are found than any other type of cancer. There has been recent controversy on the subject over when to start and how frequently to screen. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in 2009 questioned the standard approach and recommended screening every other year, starting at age 50. The American Cancer Society, as well as RASF, disagrees and recommends annual screening for breast cancer in women starting at age 40. Baseline mammography at age 35 is also helpful. The USPSTF recommendation concluded that women age 40-49 might not have a mortality benefit large enough to justify screening all women. We disagree. Not only is the mortality benefit a significant one, but we feel that the USPSTF did not take into account all the data available and that the decision to recommend against screening in certain women will delay the diagnosis of breast cancers and very negatively impact the health of young women who are otherwise in the primes of their lives. Please discuss this with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions, and we refer you to the excellent resources at the American Cancer Society for further reading.

Our recommendations:

  • Annual mammography in women starting at age 40. Baseline mammography at age 35 is helpful
  • Some women - because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors - should be screened with breast MRI in addition to mammograms
  • Mammography is provided at almost all hospital and outpatient Baptist imaging locations*
  • Breast MRI is provided at Baptist Hospital, South Miami Hospital Breast Center, Homestead Hospital, Coral Gables Baptist Medical Plaza (BMP), Miami Lakes BMP, Tamiami BMP, and Davie BMP

* Mammography currently not offered at Country Walk BMP, Palmetto Bay BMP or at Doctor's Hospital.