Govt. Panel Recommends Fewer Mammograms

Breast cancer screenings should start at 50, not 40: task force
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2009 5:12 PM CST

(Newser) – Most women can wait to get their first mammogram at 50 and then should get one every 2 years rather than annually, a powerful health policy group said today. New information led to the recommendations, said a member of the influential task force that reversed a 7-year-old edict urging aggressive screening for breast cancer starting at age 40. The extra screenings did not have a strong enough effect in reducing cancer to outweigh the detrimental effects of the screenings themselves, the task force found.

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Those risks include extreme anxiety and unnecessary treatment. Insurance companies and Medicare are expected to reduce coverage of screenings in line with the new recommendation, which does not apply to women with recognized risk factors, the New York Times reports. But a statistician involved with the task force stressed that it was not an economic decision: “The money was buying something of net negative value. The economy benefits, but women are the major beneficiaries.”
(Read more breast cancer stories.)

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