The Antidote

Counterspin for Health Care and Health News

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New mammography recommendations from USPSTF

By now you've heard that the US Preventive Services Task Force has updated their recommendations on mammography this week. In fact, the recommendation for women 50-74 is the same as before (B recommendation). The Task Force now recommends against routine screening for women 40-49, and states that the evidence is insufficient either way for women 75 and over.

Gary Schwitzer's Health News Blog analyzes coverage by the three major network news outlets and found that it was light on evidence. And while waiting for a plane, I caught a glimpse of Florida Congresswoman Deborah Wasserman-Schulz commenting on CNN about the guidelines. The congresswoman earlier this year sponsored legislation, known as the EARLY act, to promote intensive screening and breast self exam training for young women. This legislation has been criticized by cancer experts. Wassermann-Schulz apparently doesn't see any possible downside to screening. In addition, in saying that the guidelines are "patronizing" and that women need more information not less, she apparently ignores the Task Force's statement that
The decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography before the age of 50 years should be an individual one and take patient context into account, including the patient's values regarding specific benefits and harms.


At 8:09 AM, Blogger Ed Gross said...

We are watching a miniature and relatively visible version of the spin- distortion - hate speech - political polarization cycle that has dominated US politics since Bill Clinton was attacked by Newt Gingrich. The approach is subversive and damaging because it shuts off intelligent discussion and feasts on fear and ignorance to promote more of the same, combined with triumphalism and obstinacy. It's Sarah Palin's ("death panels") primary qualification for national office.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

The point about what occurred last week regarding Sebelius's trashing of her own task force, the USPSTF, is that politics prevailed over evidence-based medicine. This was a setback for health care reform. Is this a prelude to what awaits us? See


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