Dr. Carol Lee, chief of the breast imaging commission for the American College of Radiology, said that "the universal reaction among breast imagers I have spoken to across the country since we learned of these revised recommendations ... has been one of outrage."
"Screening mammography saves lives," Lee said. "It saves lives of women in their 40s."
Her organization, she said, also stands by its recommendation that women of average risk for breast cancer should begin routine mammography screening at age 40 and do it every year.
Lee also said she wondered if the new recommendations by the task force were motivated by a desire to cut costs.
Absolutely not, Petitti said.
"The task force does not deal with issues of coverage and insurance," she said. "The decision, the recommendation, had no discussion of costs."
Petitti also said that she worried that some of the recommendations would be misunderstood. The new recommendation for women aged 40 to 49, she said, is for them to talk to their doctor about the best time to start biennial screening. "At 50, the balance of benefits and harm [from mammography] become better," she said.
The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more about mammograms.
SOURCES: Diana Petitti, M.D., M.P.H., associate director, Center for Health Information and Research, and professor, biomedical informatics, Arizona State University, Phoenix; Elizabeth Fontham, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., professor and dean, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University, New Orleans, and national volunteer president, American Cancer Society; Carol Lee, M.D., chairwoman, Breast Imaging Commission, American College of Radiology; Nov. 17, 2009, Annals of Internal Medicine
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