The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a not-for-profit alliance of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of care provided to patients with cancer, recently updated the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology(TM) for Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis and continues to recommend annual clinical breast examinations and mammography for women 40 years and older at normal risk.“For women age 40 and over, the benefits of annual breast screening continue to outweigh the risks,” says Therese B. Bevers, MD, of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and chair of the NCCN Guidelines Panel for Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis.Annual clinical breast examinations and screening mammography, with breast awareness encouraged is stated in the NCCN Guidelines as a recommendation for women 40 years and older at normal risk. Although the interval of screening in women aged 40 to 49 remains controversial, the NCCN Guidelines clearly recommend annual screenings since mammograms can often detect a lesion two years before the lesion is discovered by a clinical breast examination.”Age should not be an absolute when determining who should receive mammography screening,” says Dr. Bevers. “It is imperative to consider the patient’s individual risk factors when considering an appropriate screening routine.”Dr. Bevers notes that adhering to a risk-based assessment method reinforces the concept that physicians should discuss the benefits and risks of screening with their patients.The intent of the NCCN Guidelines for Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis is to provide health care providers with a practical, consistent framework for screening and evaluating a spectrum of breast lesions. However, the NCCN Guidelines Panel emphasizes that clinical judgment should always be an important component of the optimal management of a patient.NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology(TM) are developed and updated through an evidence-based process with explicit review of the scientific evidence integrated with expert judgment by multidisciplinary panels of physicians from NCCN Member Institutions. The most recent version of this and all the NCCN Guidelines are available free of charge at NCCN.org.