US agency calls for more women to be screened for osteoporosis

September 1, 2010

New guideslines proposed by the US Preventive Services Task Force sponsored by the Agency for Health Research and Quality would increase the number of women eligible for bone density tests to detect osteoporosis.

A new set of guidelines proposed by the US Preventive Services Task Force sponsored by the Agency for Health Research and Quality would increase the number of women eligible for bone density tests to detect osteoporosis.

Both the existing and the proposed guidelines recommend that all women be screened for osteoporosis starting at age 65. However, the proposed guidelines recommend that women identified to be at higher risk for osteoporosis should be screened at any age rather than waiting until age 60, as set forth in the 2002 guidelines.

To develop the new recommendations, researchers reviewed the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, MEDLINE, reference lists, and the Web of Science for studies related to osteoporosis screening and medications with fracture outcomes; performance studies of validated risk-assessment instruments; and systematic reviews and population-based studies of bone measurement tests or medication adverse effects published from January 2001 to December 2009. Data on patient populations, study design, analysis, follow-up, and results were abstracted and study-quality rated by standard criteria.

The newest guidelines still do not recommend testing men for the disease, although the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends doing so starting at age 70.

Nelson HD, Haney EM, Dana T, Bougatsos C, Choi R. Screening for osteoporosis: an update for the US Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(2):99-111.