Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Healthcare Update: No More Mammograms

I don't need a mammography.

An influential government task force just released their findings that women in their 40s don't need routine mammograms. We just have to wait until we're 50 and then we just need one every other year. I must say I’m shocked, downright appalled by this finding.

I hope to hear ABC’s Robin Roberts and NBC’s Hoda Kotb, both in their 40s and breast cancer survivors, take on this issue on the news today.

Even more troubling, the recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, established by the federal government to provide guidance on disease prevention to doctors, insurance companies and policy makers, also said self-exams do no good and women shouldn't even be taught how to do them. So I guess they are saying don't go looking, it will cost the insurance companies extra money.

"The benefits are less and the harms are greater when screening starts in the 40s," Dr. Diana Petitti, vice chairwoman of the panel said.

The American Cancer Society sharply challenged the findings and upheld its long-standing position that recommends annual mammograms beginning at age 40.

The cancer society, in a statement by Dr. Otis W. Brawley, it’s chief medical officer, said, “This is one screening test I recommend unequivocally, and would recommend to any woman 40 and over.

The message from the task force is clear: A mammography between the ages of 40-49 doesn’t save enough lives and that this benefit is eclipsed by the risks to be worth it. According to the panel, mammograms saved only one life out of 1,900 women ages 40-49. They should tell that to all the cancer survivors, some of whom are my friends, co-workers and family members. I shudder to think how far the cancer could have progressed had they never gone for their mammography. How many of them would be alive today if this sentencing were in place when they were diagnosed?

Let me be the judge of when a test to determine my health and my life is unnecessary. The risk/benefits trade-offs like further testings, biopsies and added anxiety, are widely understood and worth it to me. Having a routine mammogram done is an insurance policy that would make me sleep better at night.

How dare this government task force publish this irresponsible nonsense. These recommendations are a real throw back in time for women. What’s next, women just don’t need medical care at all. Are they going to take away our right to vote? How come ads for prostate cancer screenings almost always feature a man in his 40s? I guess this will be considered at a later date.

Mammograms and self-testing are the most reliable screening method for breast cancer detection available today. We all know early detection is the best fight against this disease. And in many new cases, your family’s history has nothing to do with it. To take these two tools away would be a crime to women.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. More than 192,000 new cases and 40,000 deaths from the disease are expected in the U.S. this year.


  1. I heard this on the news this morning and was more than appalled. I don’t know who this task force (and sadly the head of this task force is a woman) is but if our healthcare coverage eventually reflects these so called findings, we might as well pack our bags and move back to the 1940s or even earlier when women had no rights, no votes, no say. With the right pushing to make abortions illegal (rather than simply having a choice to choose to have or not, as women should have, it’s our bodies for god’s sake) and now stating we don’t need to get annual mammograms because they claim they are useless, well, I may need to rethink where I live, not the town or the state, but the country.

  2. As women, we have to stand up to fight, not only for our rights but for our very lives.
    This task force has put us back to the time when women's rights were non existent. Write to whomever to stop this tyranny against us: your congressman, senator even the AMA