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That mammogram fracas: The American College of Radiology says, Take it back!

November 18, 2009 |  8:10 pm

Poor old U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

They're asked to assess the science on mammograms, they duly do so and come out with advice that's unpopular — suggesting that regular mammograms are not advisable for most women under 50 (not a new debate) and not advisable for women over 50 every year — and now everyone's beating up on them. 

They even dared to suggest that breast self-exams are not helpful (also not a new debate).

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seemed to distance herself from their conclusions and advice by telling the American people to "keep doing what you have been doing for years — talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions and make the decision that is right for you."

That's not enough for the American College of Radiology.

It "is pleased to see that Secretary Sebelius has reaffirmed that mammography is a vital and lifesaving tool in the battle against breast cancer. We strongly urge women and providers to continue to adhere to the current American Cancer Society and American College of Radiology policies regarding mammographic screening," it says in a statement.

(Did anyone actually think that the task force was saying mammograms are a total waste of time and that women should never, ever get them?)

But the college also wants the task force to reverse its recommendation:

"As the task force is referenced in healthcare reform legislation as a significant factor in determining which preventative services may be offered under government 'insurance exchanges' outlined in the legislation, we ask that the secretary officially ask the task force to rescind their mammography recommendations in order to avoid confusion as healthcare reform moves forward."

—Rosie Mestel

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Comments (2)

It was T.S. Wiley, who wrote Sex, Lies, and Menopause, (Harper Collins) warned women six years ago about the dangers of mammography. They devoted one entire chapter to mammograms and breast cancer. This recent news from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) -- recommendations that women get mammograms every one or two years starting at 40, now recommending biennial screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years -- is not surprise a to Wiley.

Quoting from her book, Chapter 5, p. 97, Wiley stated, “Using X-rays to see abnormalities in breast tissue had been around since 1913, but had never really become a diagnostic tool until the mid-1970s. When a pinpoint lesion appears in your breast, there may already be cancer cells multiplying in the shin of your leg, in your bone marrow. The pin-point size lesion that a mammogram picks up is only a symptom of what’s happening elsewhere in your body.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government panel of doctors and scientists, concluded that such early and frequent screenings often lead to false alarms and unneeded biopsies without substantially improving women's odds of survival.

The book also stated, “The other problem with mammography is obvious: Science only knows of one absolute carcinogen to human tissue on the planet, and that carcinogen is ionizing radiation. If the exposed cells don’t die, the DNA breaks and they mutate. Cancer rarely starts with a mutated gene; but a gene certainly can be mutated by an outside-the-body influence like the ionizing radiation of power lines or mammography. Mammography is ionizing radiation.”

What's your definition of substantial?? I think 1 in 1904 is very substantial. The task force didn't even take into account digital mammography. The recommendation needs to be reversed and pulled from the HHS website. It was based on bad data modeling and will cause the unnecessary deaths of a substantial number of women.


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