Friday, November 20, 2009

In the News: New Breast Cancer Recommendations

This is what I have to say about the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommendations for breast cancer (other than they suck--LOL):

This week, there have been several recommendations in terms of Women’s Health. For starters, The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force—an independent panel of doctors and researchers—has issued recommendations as to when women should receive mammographies.

Prior to this recommendation, standard guidelines have suggested that a woman should receive an annual mammography, starting at the age of 40. In contradiction, The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends that a woman has her first mammography at the age of 50 and every two years, thereafter.

If the recommendations of the task force were to ever be formally mandated, it would undoubtedly be at the cost of many lives. Kathleen Sebelius, The Secretary of Health and Human Services, has made it clear that women—in consultation with their doctors—should keep following the current mammography guidelines.

It is interesting—interesting indeed—that these recommendations have been made in the shadows of great health care debate. While Sebelius states that she can’t see insurance companies altering coverage of mammograms based on the recommendations of the task force, there is much cause for concern.

Increasingly, insurance companies have been barking about the costs associated with forking out money for tests and procedures that they deem unnecessary. These types of “scientific” recommendations could very well give insurance companies grounds for reducing coverage further and/or creating more stringent guidelines in terms of what they will or will not cover. It is for this reason that we must clearly voice our concerns and opinions. Things change, and these recommendations have planted seeds for negative change.

Unfortunately, we all know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and/or has died from the disease. Many of us know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, but they didn’t fit the typical breast cancer, patient composite—a woman diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40 or a man who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, for example.

Fortunately, the lives of many women have been saved by early detection through means of self breast exams and mammographies. One life saved is reason enough to support early detection and routine screenings.

If there were ever a time for socially conscious Americans to stand up in fight, this is that time. We must applaud all—including physicians and politicians—who have voiced a show of support against these potentially dangerous recommendations. A continued show of support for effective breast cancer guidelines will help to put these task force recommendations in the trash where they belong.

With all of this craziness going on, I then woke up this morning to hear that there are recommendations to change guidelines for the annual pap smear. What next? Hopefully, there won’t be anymore harmful recommendations in the near future!!!

For further reading, please review the following articles:

New Advice: Skip Mammograms in 40's start at 50

US Mammogram Policy Will Not Change Says Health Secretary

Pap Smear Guidelines: New recommendations call for tests every 2 years,0,6606495.story

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