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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