The North American Menopause Society(NAMS) was founded in 1989 by Dr. Wulf Utian, right, who is now its Executive Director Emeritus and Founding President, and the author of the just-published Change Your Menopause. NAMS is “North America’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging. Its multidisciplinary membership of 2,000 leaders in the field—including clinical and basic science experts from medicine, nursing, sociology, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, epidemiology, pharmacy, and education—allows NAMS to be uniquely qualified to provide information that is both accurate and unbiased, not for or against any point of view.”

Each September, which is National Menopause Awareness Month, NAMS produces a four-day fast-paced meeting that is highly regarded by clinicians who care for women over 40, and which addresses both scientific and clinical advances and provides the most up-to-date guidelines for the care of this demographic.

This year Dr. Utian, who has recently joined WVFC’s Medical Advisory Board and who will be writing regularly about the latest medical and scientific advances and controversies in the area of menopause, will send a daily update from the NAMS meeting. Here is the first of his reports from the cutting-edge:

The Impact of High-Tech Imaging For Menopausal Women

The NAMS 22nd annual meeting kicked off to a house full of medical experts ranging from basic scientists and researchers to clinicians of all medical specialties. The opening session, titled “Incidental Findings on Imaging: Friend or Foe?”, focused on the increasing number of scientific discoveries resulting from the use of new sophisticated technologies. The gathering of diagnostic medical information in the past relied on clinical skills. Now high-tech imaging techniques such as ultrasound, CT, and MRI allow physicians to see structures more clearly and precisely.

This information may have an impact on treatment protocols for conditions such as ovarian cysts, endometrial thickening, and small tumor deposits in the breast that often are not detected by mammography or palpation. This more precise imaging information is often confusing to clinicians. For example, many were taught that postmenopausal ovarian cysts were significant and so may respond to the discovery of persistent cysts in a post-menopausal woman by advising her to have her ovaries removed. Doctors want to save women from ovarian cancer but at the same time do not want to perform unnecessary surgeries.

Medical practitioners live in a world where litigation can often have an impact on clinical care. If the imaging procedures provide evidence of abnormal growths, guidelines must be created for the clinician to understand both the use of these techniques and how to manage the findings. It was emphasized at this timely session that new research is necessary before clinical recommendations can be made. The good news is clinical studies are underway that will hopefully lead to guidelines that will improve both early detection of cancers and other serious conditions, and diminish unwarranted surgical procedures. In other words, clinicians were urged not to overreact or to overtreat—which is good news for the women in their care.

Dr. Wulf Utian, author of  “Change your Menopause”