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Breast Cancer Screening Changes Cause Shock and Speculation

Submitted by jrlaw on Nov 24th, 2009

Breast cancer and breast cancer screening are two topics we hear about in the media all of the time. There always seem to be television commercials and magazine advertisements promoting the urgency of mammography and self-exams. It is with good reason that these subjects are so common too.

1 in every 8 US women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime and 180,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year, not to mention approximately 1,000 men as well. For several years now we have been lead to believe that failing to undergo the recommended testing was like playing with fire. So it comes as quite a shock to many people that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, as detailed in a Washington Post article, have dropped the recommendation that women in their 40s have annual screening and that women learn and perform regular self examinations. 
These breast cancer screening changes are understandably coming under a lot of scrutiny, but they also have their fair share of supporters. Some opponents of the new guidelines feel that the changes have more to do with cutting costs than they do with promoting good health. The Washington Post article explains that 5 million dollars is spent on the approximately 39 million annual mammograms performed each year in the US. Supporters of the new directive state that about 10 percent of screening produces false positives, causing undue stress, testing and sometimes treatment. They go on to say that there is little benefit to starting screening before age 50. The estimate is that screening in the 40s only prevents about 0.7 deaths in every 1000 women. Regular mammograms from 50-74 are still recommended every two years, according to CNN Health.
The debate will undoubtedly go on for years to come and will likely spark further changes. In the meantime, if you feel that you or a loved one has been harmed by poor medical advice or treatment you should speak with a qualified attorney. We deal with medical malpractice cases and would be happy to assess your case for free.