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Breast Cancer Health Center

Panel Blasts Mammogram Guidelines

Radiologists: Breast Screenings Should Continue to Begin at Age 40
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Advice for Women

The breast screening panel supports American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines, which continue to recommend annual routine mammography screening for all healthy women age 40 and older.

"The ACS guidelines have been shown to save lives. The USPSTF admits its guidelines will cause women to die," Kopans says.

No Breast Screening Experts on Task Force

Kopans says he believes the government panel had "good intentions. They just didn't know a lot about breast cancer screening," he says.

He notes that there were no radiologists -- the very doctors that perform mammograms -- on the USPSTF task force.

A big worry, the panel says, is that the USPSTF's recommendations will be used by any possible health plan being considered in Congress. That, in turn, would lead insurance companies to stop covering the annual breast cancer screenings beginning at age 40, it says.

USPSTF Says Its Message Could Have Been Better Communicated

Meanwhile at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing in Washington today, Diana Petitti, MD, MPH, vice chair of the USPSTF, acknowledged that "the expertise of this panel has been called into question."

But, she adds, radiologists were "consulted and reviewed the recommendations and provided input." 

Petitti and another member of the Task Force told the hearing that their message could have been better communicated and that and it wasn't saying women under 50 shouldn't have mammograms.

The Task Force wanted to convey that women should still talk with their doctors and let young women know that for them, the risks of mammography may outweigh the benefits, Petitti said.

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