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Physicians to debate mammography guidelines at ASU

February 10, 2010

A radiologist with the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and a former vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will discuss the intricacies of breast cancer screening and debate the implications of recent revised guidelines at Arizona State University on Feb. 11.

“Breast Cancer Screening: When to Start, When to Stop,” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. in the C-Wing of the Business Administration building, Room 116, on ASU's Tempe Campus. The event, hosted by the BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is free and open to the public.

The evening’s discussion will build off of the November 2009 revised breast cancer screening guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which increased the recommended age and lowered the frequency for mammography screening. Specifically, the task force recommended that most women start regular breast cancer screening at age 50, rather than at age 40, and that women ages 50 to 74 have mammograms every two years, rather than every year.

Debating the facets of the new recommendations will be Dr. Roxanne Lorans, a radiologist with the Mayo Clinic in Arizona who specialized in breast imaging at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and Dr. Diana Petitti, a professor of biomedical informatics at ASU and a professor of basic medical sciences at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University. Petitti recently completed service of a six-year term as vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

"Scientific advances are enabling ever more refined and sensitive screening to be carried out for a variety of cancers. However, more isn't necessarily better when it comes to screening,” says Paul Davies, director of the BEYOND Center, whose mission includes bringing hot topics in science to the public.

“Cost-benefit and risk-reward factors can be very subtle when applied to overall clinical outcomes. This debate will help inform the public about the issues behind the headlines and the choices that must be made," he says.

Davies, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist is heading up a new cancer research initiative at ASU. Established by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, the Center for Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology at ASU, is committed to using insights from the physical sciences and engineering to bring a radical new approach to cancer research with the goal of developing new methods of arresting tumor growth and combating metastasis.

The research is complemented by an outreach program under the direction of Pauline Davies, a professor of practice in ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. She will moderate the breast cancer screening debate.

While the event is free, RSVPs are requested. To register or to obtain more information, visit For online maps of the Tempe campus and parking facilities visit

Written by Daniel Moore ( for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Carol Hughes,