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Task Force Member Defends Mammography Guidelines
Date:11/19/2009

Meanwhile, three doctors weigh in on what women should do about the new recommendations

THURSDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Responding to the uproar over revised mammogram recommendations unveiled earlier this week, a member of the independent task force that crafted the recommendations defended them Thursday, saying they were based on the most current, accurate information available.

Dr. Timothy Wilt, a member of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, defended the recommendation that most women don't need to get mammograms in their 40s and should get one every two years starting at age 50. That recommendation runs counter to the American Cancer Society's long-held stance that women should get a yearly mammogram starting at age 40.

The task force's recommendations "were based on the most rigorous peer review of up-to-date, accurate information about the evidence about the harms and benefits of treatment," Wilt said on ABC's Good Morning America, the Associated Press reported.

On Wednesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius responded to the controversy that followed the release of the task force recommendations on Monday. She said the USPSTF does "not set federal policy and they don't determine what services are covered by the federal government."

Sebelius added that American women should "keep doing what you've been doing for years -- talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you."

She also said she'd be "very surprised if any private insurance company changed its mammography coverage decisions as a result of this action."

Wilt did not take issue with Sebelius' statement. "Our recommendations support an individualized decision-making process," he said, and each woman still needs to talk with her doctor to make the most informed decision, the AP reported.

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