Government Task Force Changes Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

Britain’s NHS, as all government run health care systems, continuously struggles financially, which means that it, like all government run health care systems, is always looking for ways to save money. One of the strategies it employs is to postpone at what age it will cover certain procedures or tests for its citizens. For example, the NHS pushed back when it will cover a woman’s cervical cancer screenings from the age of 20 to 25. Even after women reach the age of 25, they can only get the test every 3-5 years, instead of every year, which is the recommendation here in America. Considering how sexually active young women are these days, you can only imagine how dangerous this is.

Here in the States, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has been advising women age 40 and over to get mammograms to screen for breast cancer every two years. The American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology recommend women get mammograms every year.

However, in a sudden reversal, the US Preventative Services Task Force now says women between 40-49 should not get mammograms at all and women 50 and over should only get them every other year. On top of that, women over the age of 74 shouldn’t get any screenings at all, mammography or otherwise:

In its first reevaluation of breast cancer screening since 2002, the independent government-appointed panel recommended the changes, citing evidence that the potential harm to women having annual exams beginning at age 40 outweighs the benefit.

Coming amid a highly charged national debate over health-care reform and simmering suspicions about the possibility of rationing medical services, the recommendations immediately became enveloped in controversy.

“We’re not saying women shouldn’t get screened. Screening does saves lives,” said Diana B. Petitti, vice chairman of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which released the recommendations Monday in a paper being published in Tuesday’s Annals of Internal Medicine. “But we are recommending against routine screening. There are important and serious negatives or harms that need to be considered carefully.”

As expected, this has created quite a bit of controversy:

But the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology and other experts condemned the change, saying the benefits of routine mammography have been clearly demonstrated and play a key role in reducing the number of mastectomies and the death toll from one of the most common cancers.

“Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and these idiots want to do away with it,” said Daniel B. Kopans, a radiology professor at Harvard Medical School. “It’s crazy — unethical, really.”

The Susan G. Koman foundation issued a press release that said mammography is by far the best screening method, and until a better one is developed the current recommendations for breast cancer screening should not change.

ObamaCare hasn’t even passed the Senate yet, and already this task force seems to be implementing cost cutting measures in anticipation of the government’s increased financial stake in the health care of millions of Americans. And if this doesn’t concern you, keep in mind that Pelosi’s health care bill that just passed the House is chock full of new government health care task forces that will issue all manner of new recommendations, the vast majority of which will probably be that citizens should postpone screenings for various cancers, illnesses, and disorders.

And President Obama said no one should come between you and your doctor. What he meant is that no one should come between you and your doctor – except a government health care task force.

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