Monday, November 16, 2009
The new recommendations reverse longstanding guidelines and are aimed at reducing harm from overtreatment, the group says. It also says women age 50 to 74 should have mammogramsless frequently — every two years, rather than every year. And it said doctors should stop teaching women to examine their breasts on a regular basis.
Just seven years ago, the same group, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, with different members, recommended that women have mammograms every one to two years starting at age 40. It found too little evidence to take a stand on breast self-examinations.
While many women do not think a screening test can be harmful, medical experts say the risks are real. They include unnecessary tests, like biopsies that can create extreme anxiety. And mammograms can find cancers that are better off not found. Some cancers grow so slowly that they never would be noticed in a woman’s lifetime. When they are found, women end up being treated unnecessarily.
This is huge! The US Preventative Task Force has a lot of impact on what screening tests get done and what doesn't. After nearly 30 years of recommending a test that does more harm than good, it's starting to look like there's going to be some recognition and improvement. This will result in an immediate drop in the number of women needlessly diagnosed with breast cancers that posed no risk to their health. It will cut the needless anxiety from a false alarm dramatically as well.
All you hospitals out there that budgeted to make more money on screening mammograms next year compared to this year, you might want to redo the budget.