Panel Reasserts Mammogram Advice That Triggered Breast Cancer Debate

“Panel Reasserts Mammogram Advice That Triggered Breast Cancer Debate,” The New York Times, Jan. 11, 2016.

In 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (an independent volunteer board of doctors and other experts appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate screening tests, counseling, and medications intended to prevent disease or detect it early) advised that women needed fewer mammograms than had long been recommended. Instead of starting at age 40 and being screened every year, women with average risk of breast cancer could safely begin at 50 and be tested every other year. It also said that after 74, there was not enough evidence to determine whether routine mammography was worthwhile.

Outrage ensued, from advocates for screening who said the advice would lead to delayed diagnoses and deaths. The same panel issued an update of its guidelines, in which the basic advice for women with an average risk of breast cancer was unchanged.

The mammography guidelines were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine along with four editorials and seven supporting articles.

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