On Tuesday The Washington Post ran a story which stated that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released updated recommendations on Monday which concluded: "[w]omen in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year."
Coming amid a highly charged national debate over health-care reform and simmering suspicions about the possibility of rationing medical services, the recommendations immediately became enveloped in controversy.
"We're not saying women shouldn't get screened. Screening does saves lives," said Diana B. Petitti, vice chairman of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which released the recommendations Monday in a paper being published in Tuesday's Annals of Internal Medicine. "But we are recommending against routine screening. There are important and serious negatives or harms that need to be considered carefully."
Just six months ago this same task force warned of a slight decline in annual mammograms among women in their 40s and warned these women that they could be risking their lives if they didn't get an annual mammogram.
The downward trend, however slight, has breast cancer experts worried. Mammograms can enable physicians to diagnose the disease at early stages, often before a lump can be felt. “When breast cancer is detected early, it often can be treated before it has a chance to spread in the body and increase the risk of dying from the disease,” says Katherine Alley, medical director of the breast health program at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. See The Washington Post.
Understandably, the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society and other experts condemned the recommendation, stating that the benefits of routine mammography are clearly evident and play a major role in reducing the number of mastectomies and deaths from breast cancer. “Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and these idiots want to do away with it,” said Daniel B. Kopans, a radiology professor at Harvard Medical School. “It’s crazy — unethical, really.”
Now the White House is weighing in on their website (since it does look awfully suspicious that the recommendations are changing at the same time ObamaCare is pending) with a "Reality Check: Beware What 'Critics Say' on Reform and Mammograms. The White House blames FOX News for stirring up the controversy and states: "One of the hallmark tactics from opponents of health insurance reform has been to grab onto any convenient piece of information and twist it into some misguided attack on reform, no matter how unrelated it may actually be."
Why the sudden reversal on the frequency of mammograms? I'm sure it has nothing to do with ObamaCare and cutting costs, because I know the government cares about breast cancer rates and wants to continue to save the lives of women with early detection, thanks to yearly mammograms. Right?
Republican women are speaking out about the updated recommendation. Courtesy of Hot Air.
“This is how rationing begins. This is the little toe in the edge of the water,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “This is when you start getting a bureaucrat between you and your physician. This is what we have warned about.”…
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) said today that she feared health insurance companies would change their policies. Furthermore, she said, she feared that such studies would be used to set policy in the national health insurance exchange that would be set up and run by HHS if Democrats are able to pass their health care bill.
“The rules of what will be required to go into the exchange have yet to be written,” Schmidt pointed out. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated about 30 million Americans could receive their coverage through the exchange.
You may watch a video clip below which features Dr. Bernadine Healy and discusses what the new recommendation standards really mean.