Federal panel calls for less breast cancer screening

Federal panel calls for less breast cancer screening

And so it begins. Obama’s government run health care bill hasn’t even passed yet, but he’s already got federal panels recommending rationing.

Women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year, an influential federal task force has concluded, challenging the use of one of the most common medical tests.

In its first reevaluation of breast cancer screening since 2002, the independent government-appointed panel recommended the changes, citing evidence that the potential harm to women having annual exams beginning at age 40 outweighs the benefit.

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.”

Several patient advocacy groups and many breast cancer experts welcomed the new guidelines, saying they represent a growing recognition that more testing, exams and treatment are not always beneficial and, in fact, can harm patients. Mammograms produce false-positive results in about 10 percent of cases, causing anxiety and often prompting women to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests, sometimes-disfiguring biopsies and unneeded treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

But the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology and other experts condemned the change, saying the benefits of routine mammography have been clearly demonstrated and play a key role in reducing the number of mastectomies and the death toll from one of the most common cancers.

“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.”

The new guidelines also recommend against teaching women to do regular self-exams and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to recommend that doctors do the exams or to continue routine mammograms beyond age 74.

Some questioned whether the new guidelines were designed more to control spending than to improve health. In addition to prompting fewer doctors to recommend mammograms to their patients, they worried that the move would prompt insurers to deny coverage for many mammograms.

Less than a year ago, these same people were decrying the decline in mammograms among women in their 40s. And now, suddenly, with Obamacare looming, this panel just coincidentally came to this conclusion? Not shockingly, Ed Morrissey examines the doctors on this panel, and finds not a single oncologist present.

Barack Obama claimed that he would be championing increased screening and prevention. Yet now we’ve got a federal panel wanting to just cut back the number of mammograms performed, mammograms that could potentially be life-saving, because you could get a false positive and feel anxiety? I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’d rather get the mammogram and have the doctors look into that suspicious lump, false positive or not, than just shove it off for a few years and end up having cancer in a more severe stage. Isn’t that what Obama’s panel here is basically recommending?

And they aren’t even going after just mammograms. They don’t even want women doing self-exams anymore! I guess they don’t want to take the risk of a woman who is “too young” finding a lump on her breast and getting it checked out, just to be safe. I mean, jeez, that would just be waaay too costly. The motivation here is clearly not to save lives or decrease some imagined anxiety women get over their mammograms. (After all, what person wouldn’t be anxious if they thought they had cancer? It seems perfectly natural to me.) It’s just pathetic and extremely depressing to me that Obamacare hasn’t even passed yet — and already, we have federal panels recommending rationing care.

I keep asking — are you happy you voted for change now? Is this the hope you wanted?

No more of this if Obama has his way.

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  • Knott Buyinit says:

    This is an perfect example of the harm caused to individual liberty – not to mention the harm done to, well, individuals – when the government has a seat at the table. Just imagine what it will be like when they have the only seat at the table. Death to Death Panels!

  • Knott Buyinit says:

    BTW, ease up on those ‘self-examination’ pics, I’m not as young as I used to be.

  • Mark says:

    How many women will suffer because of this insanity? Where’s NOW? Where’s Hillary? Where has common sense disappeared to?

  • CaptDMO says:

    Strangely, such a well scripted “public” outcry was not heard when it was “determined” that prostate exams, including PSA blood tests, and “treatment”,including the less invasive “spikes” approach, for men was deemed “Not worth it”, (by the AMA, CDC, and insurance wonks anyway)

    Fortunately, my doctor was ALLOWED to prescribe PSA blood tests to establish my (46 year old at the time)”baseline”, once I made it clear that I pay in full for MY medical service (OK, with a discount for prompt cash payment), and not into a partial payment scheme, for insurance that pays partial
    percent of the bill.

    Yippee! Cheep “Insurance” for EVERYBODY! (except, not really)
    Gee! (no, GE) I wonder how many “old” digital x-ray machines, that take up space and resources for nothing else but womens breasts, will be available in recycling centers for the taking
    by “back alley” mammogram technicians and their remote “interpreters”?

    Bet there’s a BIG E-bay market for them in Canada.

    In fairness, the actual words “Death Panels” are not to be
    found in the (four reams +/-)”Public Insurance Alternitive” thesis proposed by the Democrat led Executive, and Legislative, arms of the current “crisis” manipulation team.

  • Well said, Cassy.

    If you are going to get breast cancer, the best place in the world to get it is in America. Now bureaucrats and politicians and ruthless medical specialists want to deny women hope.

    People who think this way have to figuratively be put down.

    This is why Obamacare must be defeated and never passed: literally, our lives depend on it.

    Quoted from and Linked to at:

  • Jamie Linds says:

    Puhleeze. Yes this determination is nothing more than economically driven science, but to blame Obama shows that YOU are a partisan HACK! This panel was appointed by Bush! WAKE UP, your health is being put at risk by a bunch of people charged with lowering the cost of health care.Typical of the right wing. Get your head out of your lymph nodes

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