Gundersen Lutheran Disagrees with New Breast Cancer Recommendations

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 General News
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LA CROSSE, Wis., Nov. 23 -- Women should continue to have annual mammograms

starting at age 40 according to clinical breast radiologists at Gundersen Lutheran's Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care in La Crosse, Wis. An announcement this week by the U.S. Preventive Task Force has caused
a stir for women and families across the country, suggesting women don't need screening mammograms until age 50, then every other year, rather than annually.

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"Early detection is the key to saving lives, and annual mammograms give women the best chance for early detection," said Jeannette Gasal-Spilde, M.D., a Gundersen Lutheran clinical breast radiologist.

"Screening women age 40-49 is reducing their risk of death from breast cancer by 15 percent, but because women in their 40s are at lower risk of breast cancer, the Task Force says the actual number of lives saved isn't enough for widespread screening. We disagree," said Richard Ellis, M.D., clinical breast radiologist and co-director of the breast center at Gundersen Lutheran.

"If this is about saving money, Gundersen Lutheran has a better solution," he adds. "If our team approach to caring for breast cancer patients was implemented on a national scale it could save $4.15 billion in healthcare costs." The model is centralized and coordinated meaning breast tumors are detected when they are 24 percent smaller, the discovery-to-treatment timeline is 2.5 times faster than traditional models, resulting in a 35 percent reduction of total treatment costs. And Gundersen Lutheran's outcomes exceed national benchmarks set by some of the nation's most revered medical centers.

Gundersen Lutheran is one of only two organizations in the country with every available accreditation for the full scope of breast care, diagnosis and treatment from the American College of Radiology. Gundersen Lutheran's breast center was also the first in the nation to achieve the highest level of distinction from the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers™ Program. This distinguished honor represents a commitment to provide the highest level of quality breast health care. It's the latest in a long line of honors for the Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care, which has become a national leader in the measurement of breast cancer treatment and outcomes.

Information highlighting Gundersen Lutheran's approach to breast care, and their innovative approach to providing better care while at the same time reducing costs is available online at, or by calling (608) 775-5476.

SOURCE Gundersen Lutheran Health System

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