Local medical professionals sound off on new mammogram recommendations - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/17/09

Local medical professionals sound off on new mammogram recommendations

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A new recommendation on breast cancer screening is causing an uproar in the medical community here in Lubbock.

A government task force is recommending women to wait until the age of 50 to get mammograms. The new recommendations on when women should be screened for breast cancer was released on Monday by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.

Many local health care providers and major organizations like the American Cancer Society are not following these recommendations, saying their research shows differently.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is recommending against women getting mammograms starting at age 40, which is common practice. Now they say women 50 to 74 years of age should get screened every two years, and that self breast exams have no net benefit and shouldn't be taught.

"This is the government telling you because the detection rate is smaller than in patients over 50 that you're not worth the trouble to spend the extra money on the find the cancer when you're at that age,” said radiologist David Muff.

Radiologist David Muff says the members of the Task Force don't even specialize in breast cancer. "This group of physicians, PhDs, RNs, include no radiologist, no oncologists, no breast surgeons," said Muff.

The reasoning behind the recommendations is that there are too many false alarms and unneeded biopsies. Muff disagrees. "The bottom line is that for the first time ever since 1990 death rates for cancer of the breast have decreased and it's attributable directly to screening mammography, including patients ages 40 to 49," said Muff.

The recommendation says women shouldn't get tested before 50 unless they have a family history of breast cancer. Around 80 percent of those with breast cancer had no family history of it.

They also suggest to only get screened until the age of 74. However, starting at 70, women are twice as likely to develop breast cancer. The American Cancer Society is also disregarding these recommendations. "We are not going to change our recommendations in any way, actually there’s not any evidence on our part that would merit a change," Robin Gardner with the American Cancer Society.

Though most women develop breast cancer between ages 50 to 85, Muff still recommends getting a mammogram sooner. "This is the government telling you that women age 40 to 49 and women over the age of 75, that you're just not worth the effort," said Muff.

Coming up on NewsChannel 11 at 10, we'll have even more reaction for doctors and those working closely with cancer patients.

NewsChannel 11 wants to know what you think about this issue. Take our web poll and make comments on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/KCBDNewsChannel11.

©2009 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

11/17/09
New mammogram guidelines cause uproar in medical community
Across the South Plains and the country Tuesday, women of all ages were talking about breast cancer. NewsChannel 11's Tiffany Pelt spoke with local medical branches and national organizations who are disregarding new recommendations on the age women should get mammograms.
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