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November 17th, 2009
09:04 AM ET

The New Mammogram Guidelines: Will They Cause More Confusion?

Most women should start regular breast cancer screenings at age 50, not 40, according to new guidelines released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The new recommendations do not apply to the group of women with unusual risk factors.

The group says women ages 50 to 74 should have mammograms less frequently – every two years, rather than every year. And the panel says breast self-exams do no good, and women shouldn't be taught to do them.

What do you think of the new guidelines? And if you are a woman, is this new information a relief or a source of added stress?

Post your comments here, and Heidi will read some of them in the Newsroom, from 9-11am ET

Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (250 Responses)
  1. Dee, New York

    I don't know what to make of the new recommendations. It sounds like we are being eased into rationed health care. However, I have always wondered why we hear so much about breast cancer, when heart disease and lung cancer kill more women than breast cancer.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  2. masimons

    Well I know my sister in law wouldn't be around nowadays with those rules. She was 34 when cancer was found, and is fine now.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  3. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    I always examine my wifes breast myself every chance i get why let the doctors have all the fun.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  4. Kim Egloff

    What is this "task force" that has recommended women no longer be routinely screened for breast cancer from their forties on? Are you kidding me? You have opened the way for us to lose our coverage for what could be life-saving screening. A lot of women are being diagnosed with this disease at younger ages. Obviously this is about economics! I'm glad the American Cancer Society is standing by the previous guidelines.
    Does this also mean screening for prostate cancer is not recommended?

    November 17, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  5. Gemi

    it ticks me off that people are making these ridiculous health decisions! the whole point of mammograms is to catch a problem that otherwise wouldn't have been detected! the recommendation to talk to your dr between the ages of 40-50 is ridiculous, because who doesn't already talk to their dr about this during their annual exams & pap smears? ever since i can remember, my dr does a breast exam when she does my pap smear, so of course we talk about it. that has nothing to do with the fact that now, if she doesn't feel i have a red flag and need a referral for a mammogram, my insurance is probably not going to pay for it!

    November 17, 2009 at 9:28 am |
  6. Linda Jones

    I'd like to know how many women served on this government panel that came up with this mammogram decision?

    November 17, 2009 at 9:28 am |
  7. Sandra Gustafson

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 after a routine mammogram. My tumor was aggressive. If my doctors had followed the new guidelines, I would probably be dead instead of celebrating over 20 years of being cancer free.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  8. Jennifer (CT)

    I believe we should start exams early age. I am 22 years, and my doctor told to start at the age of 30. (And it is not in family).

    But I asked my doctor when can I start, and I trust doctor's opinion. And will do so at 30.

    Because I rather do it at 30, rather than wait 20 years! And if you wait until 50. Maybe its too late!

    Like the lady that said her sister was 34. Happy to hear she is good now! This is what I am talking about.

    We need the best care at a lower cost.

    Congress should ask doctors! Not decide for themselves!

    November 17, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  9. Kimberly Krautter

    It's one thing to adjust the recommended start date for mammograms, it's utterly irresponsible to tell women that breast self-exams are worthless. That flies in the face of hundreds of thousands of lives that have been saved by women detecting lumps before a medical exam. Please follow up on this story by identifying exactly who is on the government panel that made this pronouncement and finding out if and/or what the politics are behind it. I'm a big proponent of the Obama health care reform agenda, but this does indeed smack of rationing, and I am concerned that the timing of this announcement - in advance of the Congressional vote on the bill - is a manipulation by interests opposed to reform who are entrenched in the Executive branch.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  10. JoAnne, Buffalo Grove, IL

    I am sick and tired of the Insurance Companies trying and most time succeeding in running our lives. They want your premiums, however, when it comes time for them to pay what they are suppose to they decline, or cancel coverage. It is time for the American people to demand that they do their job stop considering their bottom line. TELL THEM TO DO THEIR JOBS NOW!

    November 17, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  11. jamison fleming

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 44. A Mammogram detected the tumor. If I had not felt compelled to have my "annual screening", it may have gone years before it was detected, costing much more for medical treatments,and possibly resulting in a terminal condition. I think mammogams should be recommended for women at age 40 until a better diagnostic tool is developed. How many lives should this decision cost?

    November 17, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  12. Y. Rowe

    Here's another instance where the corporation's bottom lines triumph over patients' rights. Breast cancer–like any other form of the disease–doesn't verify your birthday before it visits. There are too many women that develop breast cancer BEFORE the magic age of recommended mammograms.

    You can bet insurance lobby provides data to the government to help in deciding at what age screenings are appropriate. Of course, those same insurance companies use government guidelines as an excuse to refuse to pay for testing that may be necessary based on family medical history. I know this from personal experience. I had a mass that was increasing in size over several months. My insurance provider refused to schedule the test because I was 35 at the time.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  13. Shamille

    Hi Heidi, I am a female, 44 years old and have no health insurance. Just yesterday I was looking online for free mammogram check up in my area. Breast Cancer runs in my family and it is a big concern to me. I think Females age 40-74 should have mammograms check-ups once a year.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:41 am |
  14. Cortney A. Cole


    Good Morning!

    As per the article stated above, it angers me for Americans to be advised how and when to start preventative measures against breast cancer as such stated above. As President and Founder of Pink Door Nonprofit Organization founded in honor of my mother Gayl Gronauer Cole who was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 49 in 1999, it takes the preventative measures of women checking their breasts and receiving mammograms starting at the age of 40 to ensure no radical changes in their health. The American Cancer Society states that women under the age of 40 who are diagnosed with breast cancer have an 80% chance of living 5 or more years compared to women ages 40 or older that have a 90% chance of living 5 or more years after the cancer has been treated. Preventative measures are what ensure women to know what they are looking for and to ensure they understand how important it is to check your breasts regularly. Without practicing these preventative measures, a woman could potentially miss the threat that changes her life.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  15. Sheryn

    I am an American living in Canada and live with the reality of medical care that is highly regulated by the government. Canada recommends core screening mammograms for women age 50 to 69 and has done this for years. They advise that the evidence for screening outside of this recommended age is 'not conclusive'. I don't necessarily agree and see it only as a way to save money.

    Frankly, when I heard that the US would be changing the recommended age for screening, it was obvious to me that it was a cost-cutting measure to save the government money when we have government-run health care in the US.

    I would like to see proof that the new screening will not hurt us and will continue to protect us from developing cancer.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  16. Nancy beck

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 48 through my yearly mammogram. Since I was getting yearly mammos since I was 40, the detection was early. If I would have waited to start at 50, it would have possibly progressed to my lymph nodes.

    What is this task force thinking? I know specifically 3 other women who were diagnosed with early breast cancer in their 40's from getting a yearly mammo. Also, I know 2 people who found their breast cancer by self-exam!!!

    Obviously these people on the preventative task force are not thinking PREVENTATIVE!!!

    Thanks Heidi.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:46 am |
  17. Freda Platt

    Just who are these people that are making life desisions for the women? Should this not be a personal desision, as to self exams. and your doctors openion. Personally I found a lump at the age of 30 and went immediately to my doctor. By this time it was so evident that a mammagram was not ordered and as a result had to have a mastectomy. Happily I am canser free. So for all the women out there. Use your head.
    Do what is best for YOU. I'm sure most doctors support you and your health. If not change doctors. We as a society do not have to sit back and accept everthing that is told to us. Use your head. And by the way I was the first in our family with breat canser.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  18. angie

    It will cause more turmoil and distress among women because of the neglect the healthcare system permits! (it will cause more deaths over the issue of money).

    November 17, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  19. Toviana

    I am shocked by this finding and can't believe that it would actually be suggested that women do less to detect breast cancer, especially the self-exams. Even if you're wrong with a self-exam it's better to be safe than sorry. And many cases of breast cancer are found from self-exams! This all just seems crazy.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  20. Marie Porter

    I'm not sure about the new findings, although, being that I am 34 years young, I tend to find it a bit confusing but on the other by following new procedures perhaps it would be in the best interest for our bodies.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  21. Kayla

    I am a 20 year old college student and I have already had 2 biopsies, both in my left breast. It scares me that they are telling women to wait longer because my first siting was when I was 14!

    So to further that, I worry about the statement to stop self examinations. WHY? I found mine on my own, at age 14. I completely disagree with their statements and fear of the future in breast cancer awareness and cures.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  22. Rachel Matthews

    I am a 42 year old breast cancer survivor. If it were not for my self breast exam they would not have found the lump that the mammograms and sonograms did not detect.
    I found the lump and it was biopsied and came back as breast cancer.
    So self exams along with mamograms are 100% completley necessary.

    Rachel Matthews
    pembroke pines, florida

    November 17, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  23. Jackie

    Preventative health maintenance is the best way for our government to save money. That includes preventative testing, such as mammograms, and self- breast exams. The idea of promoting an increased age for mammograms is just ridiculous. Treating cancer in a later stage will be more invasive, more costly, and most importantly, more physicially and emotionally difficult for the patient. I will continue to promote these two techniques to patients and friends.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  24. Evelyn Peck

    Please excuse the cynicism. I wonder just how many of the people on the panel that came outnew with these guidelines are "in bed" with insurance companies? I know that sounds terrible, but today, who knows!!! Nothing would surprise me as the insurance companies would pay less out for medical care.

    Evelyn Peck

    November 17, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  25. Corinne Winograd

    As an MD and breast cancer survivor, whose cancer was detected by mammogram before age 50, I would strongly recommend that patients have at least one "baseline" mammogram between age 40 and 50 to detect one specific easy to spot risk factor: dense breast tissue. People who are found to have dense breast tissue should be followed more closely as their risk for breast cancer is elevated.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  26. Karen in Texas

    I think that this is terrible. They say that it will be a personal decision when in all reality it will be the reason that insurance companies weasel out of preventitive care. I have a large amount of friends in thier 40's that are alive today because of early detection. What a huge disapointment that this is even a thought!!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  27. lori

    women should continue to get annual mamograms starting at any age she deems necessary. Also continue self exams. Shame on Amy Abernathy for playing into the politics.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  28. Kathy

    I am 40 years old and cannot tell you how many women that I know on their first mammogram had to have multiple scans, ultrasounds and biopsies only to have a benign findings.

    The tests are invasive, expensive and not necessary.

    The false findings lead to panic and time off from work and family.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  29. Clair

    I highly recommend women in their 40's having annual screening mammograms. I work at a health clinic and just last month 7 out of 23 mammograms came back with abnormalities. So far there has only been 1 confirmed case of breast cancer- but this was in a 43 year old woman. This would have been missed if the guidelines are changed!

    Also self-breast exams are another way to find lumps – why would anyone want to reduce their chances of finding cancer. Women need to ignore these findings and continue to keep up with previous suggestions.

    Clair, Registered Nurse. Virginia

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  30. Dana Shelton

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer last December in spite of negative results from both mammogram and ultrasound. The only reliable method to find early stages of breast cancer is by using MRI technology.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  31. Danny

    Heidi – The big question is, how will the health insurance companies use this information? If the insurance companies follow these new recommendations, in terms of what they will cover, then most patients will not have a choice.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  32. Anne gauthreaux.

    I agree that each person is different, and you could decide on a case by case basis. At age 41, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had no history of breast cancer in her family, but she insisted on a mammogram. I think that probably saved her life, so for me and my sisters, we plan on early mammograms.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  33. Sheila

    The insurance companies must be loving this one! One more way to deny coverage for women.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  34. kelly dunn

    I agree that routine screenings are an effective tool for early diagnosis –
    but as the cost of medical treatments rise, and so many folks have NO INSURANCE AT ALL – how are they to pay for it? For ME, mammagrams are a "luxury test". I'd rather buy food for my family!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  35. Warren

    First – you addressed your comments to women – don't forget about the husbands who care about their women!

    I think any focus away from early detection is a mistake and and most likely not cost efficient. The cost of cure early on verses cost of care with late stage cancer is huge.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  36. Mary Ann Haas

    the government panel recommendation on mamograms sounds like the Death Panels have already started operating. Next we will hear that medicare won't pay for an annual mamogram. Imagine what these government panels will do to a public health system.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  37. Shirley

    These guidelines are ridiculous! I found my breast cancer at 47. I had no family history. I'm a 19yr survivor because of breast self-exam. One needs both mammograms & breast self exam to catch the more aggressive breast cancers in the younger patients!

    This what to expect from the government running our health care. We'll have the poorer survival rates of the UK.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  38. Kathy Sikorski

    Having lost several family members to breast cancer I find it reprehensible that this recommendation has come out. One more way for the insurance companies to put the screws to us. In 15 years just think of all the young woman who may have to deal with this change in philosophy. (Who's idea was this? Medical or Insurance company?) Keep up the good work Heidi

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  39. Barb

    I have a friend who was 29 when she died of breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 38. I know for a fact, had those guidelines been effect, I would not be typing this to you. I think that it is shameful that they are now saying this, when 70% of the women who die of breast cancer, have no history of it in their family!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  40. James Ehrlich, MD

    The US Preventive Task Force routinely issues recommendations that are completely contrary to the expert guidelines issued in fields like cardiology. In fact, it can be proven they establish positions and selectively find literature that will support their distorted views. This task force should be disbanded and not funded.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  41. Dr. Denise Fraser Vaselakos

    I am outraged at the irresponsibility of this study and the report. Women had to take charge of raising money for breast cancer research and treatment because we were so underrepresented by our governmental health departments. And now when the government is proposing health reforms where the government has to put money into treatments and procedures, etc. it begins. This is the first step in the government cutting where they often do first – taking away services and good treatment for women. Look at how our domestic violence shelters are supported – or not – look at DCFS and care we give our underpriv. children – we don't and now we will start attacking responsible health care for women.
    Once again women will have to fight for their rights and for the rights of our girls. Dr. Denise Fraser Vaselakos

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  42. Stephanie

    I don't understand this. I thought the goverment was supposed to be looking out for and doing what is best for the people of their country. As someone who has cancer running through both sides of my family, I feel like I'm being given the death penalty before I've even commited the crime.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  43. jaipsang

    I wonder if the main reason behind the task force decision was to give insurance companies leverage to not cover certain treatments. Even in high school they discuss the issue with young women and how crucial it is to monitor almost all your life. After working for an OB/GYN over a summer I also learned that mammograms are very important to screen. Doctors are able to practice preventive medicine when they understand everything about their patient. Insurance companies thrive off of crisis treatment but not preventive treatment

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  44. coyote

    Sounds like a bad recommendation. If I heard correctly, there were no oncologists on the panel making this recommendation. That's kind of like veterinarians making recommendations about cardiology decisions.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  45. Donnie in Texas

    This is just the first of many attempts by the govt. to manage healthcare. This way they cut costs on all those completely unjustified, unwarranted medical tests that save lives. They would rather you just die so they can come in and claim your estate.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  46. MomMom

    Do you think the new guidelines will be used by Insurance Companies to refuse to pay for mammograms at a more frequent rate? Also, what about women over 75?

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  47. Donna

    My First Thought After Seeing Your Report Was That The Insurance Companies Lobbists Must Be Behind This Push To Change The Guidelines For Breast Examines So They Can Deny Paying Coverage For The Exam. It's An Odds Game For Them And They Are The Only One's To Benefit From Such A Change In Government Guideline.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  48. Joshua, Scranton,PA

    My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 40's and a lump was discovered by her and her boyfriend. I don't understand why these people on the panel want to push mammograms back by 10 years and to stop self examinations. These things help save lives and cancer doesn't care how old one is.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  49. Mary E. (VA)

    My baseline screening at 42 found a lump and led to successful surgery. Where would I be now if I had to wait 8 more years. The very thought gives me chills.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  50. robin

    This recommendation may become the basis for insurance companies to deny mammogram coverage for as many women as possible. It may also become the basis for further rationing of health care to save costs in a public option plan. It isdifficult enough to get women to take care of themselves.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  51. Dewey Fish

    Mammograns CAUSE more cancers than they find PERIOD!!!!!!
    I can Not believe that not one of these so called EXPERTS did NOT mention Thermograms which find cnacers DOZENS of years before they even have a chance to become a cancer!... Actually that is not hard to believe... After all we need to drum up the Bizness of Cutting Women Up... Right!??
    and What is the problem with you guys not mentioning Vitamin D which stops Cancers in its tracks...
    I an haveing a hard time believing anything I hear on CNN these days...

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  52. Janice Leigh D'Alba

    I am a 49 year-old breast cancer survivor, as of 3 and 1/2 years ago. Had it not been for mammograms (which I have been getting since age 35) my cancer might have grown, and would have had a greater chance of losing my breast. As it were, I had a lumpectomy, and radiation, and am doing fine. My sister is another example of early detection being successful; however, she had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy @ the age of 43! Early detection is crucial. We did not have a strong history of breast cancer in our family. Hope this helped to enlighten someone.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  53. Jean

    Heidi, isn't it obvious? They (the pharmas, doctors, hospitals) want women to wait until their 50's for a mammogram – why? Because then there will be more cancer that has advanced by that time and, thusly, will bring in more money to the pharmas and doctors and hospitals. It's just a money-making scheme. There has been a cure for cancer out there for over 20 years, but cannot be published because then the pharmas, etc., would not make the money they now are. In the meantime, we suffer with cancer.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  54. Lisa

    Hi Heidi!

    As a 21 year old college student with a family who has a history of breast cancer, I believe that the recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is completely ridiculous. The fact is that beginning mammogram at age 50 and having the only every 2 years is doing the opposite of what the force is supposed to do, prevent.
    The fact is that this recommendation will just be another reason why insurance companies reject paying for these tests.
    Being a person that has higher risk factors I believe that this will only hinder the ability for myself and other women, even those without these undefined risk factors, to get the preventative help we need.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  55. Sue Ferriola

    Please, please do not change breast exam and mammogram recommendations! I had my first baseline mammogram at age 37.
    My second one at age 40 revealed cancer in my left breast. I did not discover it during a self exam. I had no family history or unusual risk factors.
    After surgery and radiation treatment, I am still cancer free 17 years later. The facts speak for themselves! Mammograms save lives.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  56. Peggy Potempa

    I lost both breasts to cancer at the age of 46. The cancer was found in my routine mammogram. I may not have made it to 50 if I was not getting routine mammograms. Just for kicks I took a "are you at risk for breast cancer" quiz onine and found I am "low risk", yet I did have it and so has my sister who was 42 at the time she found it also in a routine mammogram. I would have to question the motives behind that "panel" because they clearly do not have women in mind, but perhaps money? I also know of a woman who died last year to breast cancer at the age of 34, she had not had a mammogram yet because of some "guidelines" that say you start at 40. I think baseline should be very young (say 25) and atleast every 5 years up to 40 then every year thereafter, and I am not a Dr. I just believe women should have every possible chance at a full life.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  57. Cheryl

    I have two friends both in their early 40s recovering from breast cancer treatment. Both are now cancer free, one found a lump by self breast exam a few months after a mammogram that was clear. The other friend's cancer was found in her routine mammogram. This said, I will not be following the new guidelines – the old guidelines have saved many lives!!!!!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  58. Simone

    It's very upsetting to hear this guideline as it may cause confusion.
    I'm a breast cancer survivor, age 43, with no risk factor. Had negative mammograms in 2 years, but my self exams led to the diagnosis.
    It's a mistake not to teach self exam to women.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  59. Shelley Dawn Kuder

    I am a breast cancer survivor. I did detect the cancer via a self examination. I am grateful today that I did the mammogram and dealt with the cancer at an early stage. On the other hand as I became more aware of the dangers of the mammogram procedure I am convinced that the procedure being used is archaic. We need to be able to have the most up to date mammogram technology available. There is also an alternative type blood reading that can detect cancer in the body. Unfortunately the AMA will not allow this procedure to be used by our doctors. The downside of the insurance companies is also an unfortunate situation as they do not fund these types of procedures in all cases. I believe that a woman should be able to get a mammogram at any age, paid for by insurance or other means, and that self examination is very important at all ages. We have done all this research over the years and have come to this point that takes all the research and puts it in the trash. Lets get on board and get the alternative blood test available to our medical doctors and quit bowing down to the AMA and all the rules they have placed in the use of alternative discovery and treatment. I am currently healthy and use alternative means to stay that way.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  60. Ethel


    I think the Task Force advice is irresponsible at best and dangerous at worst. Countless of women have discovered malign tumors thru self-exam. Delaying mammograms and having them less frequently will certainly result in women having a more advanced stage of cancer when discovered. It defintely does not bode well for the health of American women.

    Whose interest is the Task Force protecting? Certainly not women.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  61. Gary

    Heidi... Let's not be naive, this breast exam report is the government’s first attempt at lowering medical expenses in anticipation of the new health care bill. As usual the politicians and administration only cares about their agenda, not the Peoples. Who will be next target ?

    November 17, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  62. T Johnathan

    In May 1992, my fiance and I were scheduled to look at the Victorian mansion where we were to be married later that year. That morinig, she did a self breast exam and found a lump. From there she had surgery, chemo and radiation. She found the cancer early due to breast self exam. It didn't cost anyone anything for her to perform the BSE. She was able to fight the cancer for 10 years until her passing in 2002. I don't understand stopping the recommendation for the BSE. It is free and simple. I wish that they would reconsider this recommendation.


    November 17, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  63. javier hernandez

    Dr. Perer Pressman is lost in space his book is no good. Infrared breast health called Thermography scans are safe . wak-up Cancer Doctors are greed . they buy wholesale and sell retail.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  64. Cindy

    Have friends that caught breast cancer early because of either self-exams or mamograms, if they would have waited, they probably wouldn't be here now! I actually had fiborous growth and my doctor was able to get more detail due to the mammogram, that was at 44, it was removed and all is fine. I would rather have the stress of a mammogram, biopsies, and know all is well, than to find something at a point of no return!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  65. Loriann Cody

    My breast cancer was detected by a baseline (first) mammogram when I was 38. I had no family history and other than being a white, college educated woman who lived on Long Island (NY) and delayed childbirth until my 30s, I was not high risk, and had no symptoms. Yet, at age 38, my mammogram showed a distinct pattern of calcifications and a biopsy confirmed the presence of cancer. That was 11 years ago, and treatment and regular screening has kept me cancer free. I shudder to think of the consequences if I had followed these new guidelines and not had a mammogram yet, (I am 49).

    November 17, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  66. Ronnie Wilson

    My wife had breast cancer at 33 years old, reason it was found was due to her mothers diagnosis. I think this study result will only make it harder for younger women to get insurers to pay for preventive medicines or procidures.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  67. Jean

    Is this the first signs of how the new Healthcare Bill is going to work?
    Must be men on the panel, they don't have to worry about breast cancer like women. I say get a new panel

    November 17, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  68. Christy H.

    In Jan. 1997 at 39 I noticed a change in my breast , but didn't pay much attention. After reading an article in the Womens Home Journal in May of 1997 about Breast Cancer, I contacted my doctor and was confirmed to have 3 different cancers in one breast. If I didn't pay attention to my body and self exams, I won't be celebrating a 2nd birthday every June.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  69. Ann B.

    On of my school class mates died of breast cancer at age 42 after fighting it for 10 years. How can they now say one does not need a mammogram before age 50?

    November 17, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  70. s.fountain

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer on sept 15th of this year & had a lumpectomy on Oct 1st. Because I am very faithful about my yearly mammograms, the mass was 1cm. The mass was not there last year, & I am so greatful that I get my check ups regulary. I will start my radiation soon, & my doctors tell me I will live a long & happy life.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  71. Arlene Yaccino

    As a breast cancer survivor of 21 years and a mother of two young women who were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 30's, I know how important the use of mamograms are- particularly for young women with family history.
    Early detection is key. Breast cancers in young women are usually more aggressive, and they must be found early on. Having lost one daughter to this disease at age 36, I vehemently oppose any gov't panel that discourages self breast exams and suggests that women should wait to age 50 to have mamograms.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  72. Robin Chubb

    ASTONISHING! I can not imagine why any task force, government or otherwise, would discourage women from performing a self breast exam. I am a Stage II breast cancer patient. I FOUND the lump December, 2008, after regular mammograms.

    I had no previous family history of breast cancer, therefore I considered myself low risk. Such was not the case.

    In 2002, the "new" guidelines recommended a yearly mammogram starting at age 40 and earlier with a family history of breast cancer. Now, less than 8 years later, the recommendation has again changed. This type of confusion will lead to reluctance for many women to seek medical advise for a potential life threatening cancer.

    Thank you,
    Robin E. Chubb

    November 17, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  73. H Thornton Freund

    Heidi, this new recommendation from the Government panel sounds like it will put many women at risk. I think this is the first barrage of many in efforts to reduce so-called "unnecessary" testing as part of health care reform. However this is misguided advice and confusing at best. I would be curious to see what exact new data this is based on. my guess is it a post fact analysis of data.
    Most doctors still support the current recommendations of starting mammograms at 40 and self examination!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  74. jaxon

    This is what rationing looks like - the government says you do not need it, and Medicare and insurance companies (including the government's public option) won't pay for it. Welcome to things to come. My sister in law was diagnosed at 35, found a lump through self examination, and was dead at 52. I'll go with the adgvicer of those who don't have a dog in the game.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  75. John Arnold

    My concern is funding. Who is going to pay for the mammograms that doctors will continue to order that insurance companies will no longer pay for because of this study?

    Siletz, OR

    November 17, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  76. tom ruane

    i am afraid that this type of scary recommendation from a "panel" of experts is a what the country should expect from from the medical "panel" contained in the health care reform bills proposed in Congress.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  77. Ann B.

    I truly do not believe this is political as many would now like it seem.... rather the question would be… Is it men claiming we don’t need early mammograms and self examination?

    November 17, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  78. Lindy in Seattle

    Interesting that this government recommendation is England's national health standard. Originally from England we moved to the States to get away from a health program that was responsible for the poor health of our family.

    As a breat cancer survivor due to early detection I am appalled that two of my friends in England have lym node involvement with exactly the same cancer I had due to waiting for mamagrams.

    Will insurance adobt the government policy guidelines? Here we go health reform is on the way. 18% higher death rate in England for breast cancer, your government facts not mine.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  79. Patricia

    I agree with the American Cancer Society's stand on not changing the age requirements that are presently in place for women to be tested at age 40 for baseline mammograms. It really makes me wonder who is sponsoring the costs for this task force. . . insurance companies?????

    November 17, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  80. Pam

    Dear Heidi/CNN:
    Thank you for talking about this serious issue.

    I am 51 now. At age 46, during a routine mammogram, a small right breast tumor was found. The tumor was the size of a woman's fingernail. Though it was small, it was of the most aggressive growing cancers. There is no other breast cancer history in my family.

    In addition, I know other women that were diagnosed in their 40s by mammogram. Also, I know women that have found their breast cancer tumors by self-examination.

    I am now worried about my daughter, with the new guidelines the government has issued. Insurance companies will follow these guidelines and deny payment on early mammograms. This is detrimental to the younger women of our country.

    Thank you!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  81. Sally R. Hirschberg

    I'm really shocked at everyone's naivite with regard to the new breast care information. Obviously, the insurance companies will save a whole lot of money if they don't have to cover mammos in women from 40-50 years of age. Like most things, this is an economic finding and we, again, are put at risk because of simple greed!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  82. Ilonka Nakhleh

    These new guidelines don't change anything except underline the science of statistics. Women still need to stay on top of "breast health" awareness. If you're in a higher risk category you need to have your annual mammogram and most women in their 50's -70's will probably still chose to be checked annually. Common sense needs to prevail and I wish this "radical change in breast cancer screening guidelines" would include positive healthy lifestyle incentives.


    Albuquerque New Mexico

    November 17, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  83. Sue

    I had no history of BC but a routine mamogram at the age of 47 saved my life.If I had waited until I was 50 I would not be here today. The mamogram found my cancer which I did not feel myself. Statistics don't give you the real story.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  84. Dmitry Ostrovsky


    What we should understand is that this is a cost-benefit issue at its core. The task force is made up of economists who are looking at the problem from a completely utilitarian perspective. The oncologists are clearly concerned with the health of their individual patients and their personal liability. Whereas the task force is concerned with maximazing the efficiency of treatment policies, by reducing less cost effective ones in favor of more cost effective policies.
    The real issue we should talk about it whether Americans are ready to accept policy changes like this, which affect the individual negativly (by a relatively small probabilistic change for the average woman), but will increase the efficieny (cost benefit) of the entire healthcare system overall...

    Dmitry, Rutgers University Senior (concentration in health economics and medicine)

    November 17, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  85. Jessica

    I am terribly distraught by the "recommendations" of this so called panel. I am interested to know who makes up this group. This is a devastating recommendation to women of all ages. This is not something that should only upset women, but men, imagine all of you the mothers, sisters and daughters that will unneccesarily die as a result of this change. It will effect all Americans. This is simply irresponsible.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  86. Vicki Brown

    I have had regular mammograms since I turned 50. I had a lot of cysts so I usually had to have a sonogram to determine if the lumps were cysts or tumors. They were always cysts. Once I was post-menopausal, all of the cysts went away. But my doctor said I should still have a yearly mammogram.

    In November or 2007, they saw "something" on my mammogram. Several mammograms and sonograms later, I had a biopsy. The tumor was so small they could never get a good enough picture of it.

    The biopsy was positive for cancer. I had a mastectomy and the surgeon said the tumor was larger than they thought. It was tucked in in such a way that mammograms could show only part of it. He said it would have been two years before it was big enough to be felt. By then the course of treatment and my chance of survival would have been much different.

    My daughter's doctor said she should continue self-exams and have a mammogram when she turns 40.

    Heidi, this government guideline scares me because insurance companies could use those guidelines to refuse to cover yearly mammograms. I am having mine next week. I know the benefit of a yearly mammogram. I am thankful that my cancer was caught early and was removed. I am a survivor.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  87. Donna R.

    Heidi–I'm 67 and have tried to take care of myself. My question is "how often?" but what does this smashogram do to the breast tissue. I have dense breasts and for days after the procedure I have a lot of discomfort. To the man who designed this machine I'd like to put something of his in there and see how he likes it!!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  88. Lois A. Daly

    Heidi –

    Can we find out exactly who comprises this "Task Force" to determine their absurd recommendation. If so, please do. Thanks.


    November 17, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  89. Jane Barnum, Suffolk VA

    I was diagnosed and survived Breast Cancer at 45 almost 20 years ago. A recommendation to delay this critical screening to age 50 is a death writ and is clearly another insurance company ploy to save their bottom line rather than save a woman's life.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  90. Terri Foster

    If the new guidelines had been in place 5 years ago, I never would have gotten a mammogram and my breast cancer would not have been discovered until it was too late. My cancer was one that did not present like a lump, and was visible only by imagery. I, for one, am going to lobby hard for women over 40 to continue to have access to mammography – for me, it was a matter of life and death.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  91. donel wagner

    i am 65 years old and a 13 year breast cancer survivor. i had simultaneous bilateral breast cancer. my concern is as follows: do your mammogram as early as possible anf often. mt lumps were as small as the eraser on the tip of a pencil/ i was in california at the time., what i have found now living in idaho is that the women don't get their mammogram because if something is suspected or found, there is no coverage for treatments after the initial mammogram. tell congress , do the testing early, often and then cover treatment choices o the patient, thank you, donel

    November 17, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  92. Linda

    I am a six-year survivor of breast cancer. I was 38 years old when I found a lump in a self examine. There was no history of breast cancer in my family.

    My doctor showed me how to do a self-breast examine and I will always be grateful. He used a breast model with different lumps and pointed out the type of lump that was most likely to cause issues.

    I find it coincidental that need/frequency/age frame of mammography is being highlighted in a time when we are looking at healthcare reform. What “price/cost” would you put on your health? Stayed informed and learn how to advocate for your personal wellness/health care.

    Bottom line, I do not agree with new guidelines. I would further agree with the doctor who stated perhaps even a more frequent use of mammography is needed. I suggest a base-line early in development and then every decade from there with yearly mammography from age 40 and continued as needed.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  93. Dr. Monica Saini

    I think it's a shame that the task force is discouraging women from taking health into their own hands and performing self breast exams. As a Breast Specialist, I encourage women to examine their bodies in order to detect change.

    Moreover, I diagnose women with breast cancer not only in their fifties but also in their forties and thirties. Denying younger women access to a screening mammogram will only result in late-diagnosed and more advanced cancers.

    We should be promoting early diagnosis and early and possibly less aggressive intervention. Prevention is key!!

    Thank you for addressing this pertinent issue.

    Monica Saini MD, M.S.
    Chief of Breast Imaging
    Santa Fe imaging

    November 17, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  94. Ted

    The new recommendations are NOT saying every woman should delay mamography until 50. Only that women without risk factors ( family history or genetic conditions) can wait until 50. Women at high risk should still have earlier mamography. In order to properly follow the recommendations a person must first know their risk status. The guidelines are really saying let's screen high risk patients early and low risk patients later. To me that makes sense.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  95. Cécile Vandenven

    5 years ago, I was diagnosed with a breast cancer. I was 38 and with no family history. It was discovered at my first routine mammogram (asked by my belgian OB/GYN). This new recommandation is dangerous for women and their family. In Belgium, mammograms are recommended at 40 and sometimes earlier and of course, it's totally free!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  96. Missy

    Here we are again with Government poking their nose in something they know nothing about and trying to run our lives. Bottom line is - they don't want the expense of preventive medicine. The almighty dollar is more important than saving a persons life. I had a friend that died of breast cancer at 26 years old. There will be a lot more deaths if we let "them" make our medical decisions for us.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  97. Patty Nicola

    This is a disconcerting recommendation. I was diagnosed by mammogram at age 41 with no risk factors. I have had friends die from the disease at age 52 having never had a mammogram. If I had opted to wait for recommendations, I would not be here today to urge women to be her own advocate and utilize the preventive measures available to each of us.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:43 am |
  98. Penny Freeman

    I have annual mammograms, exactly twelve months apart to the week. Three years ago I went from a perfectly clean previous scan to discovery of a small but rapidly growing and aggressive cancer. There is virtually no question that if I had waited another year for my next mammogram, I would, best case, have had to have much more radical surgery, more radical treatment and much greater suffering. Worst case, and far more likely, I would be dead now instead of pushing toward being a four year survivor. This study may save insurance companies money in the short run, but if followed, it will result in unnecessary suffering and death of unknown numbers of women. It is an abomination and should be ignored! I would like to live to see my grandchildren grow up. The mammogram that found my cancer gave me a chance at that.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:43 am |
  99. Madeline

    I think the "government panel" does not have the right to decide who lives or dies. Because in essence that is what this means to me. At age 40, with no family history of breast cancer I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. The tumor which was 2cm was removed via lumpectomy and here I am 12 years later able to respond to this outrage. I was an average 40 year old, who had no signs of a problem. This could happen to anyone! There should not be a regulation on this. What he government panel should do instead is find a solution for women like me who developed lymphedema in my right arm a chronic condition I have to deal with for the rest of my life.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:43 am |
  100. Rosalind Pore

    I totally disagree. As a mother who lost her only child to breast cancer at the age of 20 in 2002, I believe they should bringing the age guidelines down. We need to educate our young women on the importance of self breast examination.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  101. Sharron

    I was mortified to learn on this panel's recommendations. I have already lost two close friends in their 40's to breast cancer. Also, my daughter, age 47, has just completed a year of chemo and surgery for her breast cancer. She had regular mammograms, but between them she discovered her own tumor because of self examination. Although she is doing fine now, I believe that the combination of self exam and mammo saved my daughter's life. Of course, she will be watched closely for the next few years by her oncologist.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  102. Grandma

    I'm not comfortable with the fact that the new guidelines are based solely on AGE! Nothing starts without a CAUSE - and age isn't a strong enough factor. They should investigate the linkage of breast cancer sufferers with their lifestyles. How many use:
    -Birth Control pills, and for how many years?
    – Partners other than their husbands?
    – Existing conditions, i.e., STDs?
    – Family history?
    – I'm sure the list could be a lot longer, if someone took the t ime to check. There are many other possibilities that should be investigated, rather than blaming "age."

    November 17, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  103. Tracey

    I was only 41 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have NO family history. I breast fed both my kids. I exercised and ate right. I have never smoked. In short, I was one of those who was never supposed to get breast cancer.

    When I was 40 I got my baseline mammogram. At 41 I went for my routine mammogram. The radiologist found "micro calcifications" that could have been nothing and would have been considered to be nothing, if it were not for my baseline at age 40, one year earlier. He had the baseline to compare it to and suggested that I get a biopsy. It turned out that I had a very aggressive and invasive cancer.

    After a bi-lateral mastectomy and eight rounds of chemotherapy and yet another surgery, just yesterday I was declared "cancer free" by my oncologist. I had a PeT scan last week to confirm it. It has been a tough year for my family and myself, but we are eternally thankful for the mammograms.

    I am so very thankful that I went for that baseline at age 40. If I had not I would not have made it to age 50. The type of cancer that I had spreads, it does not usually form a tumor and may not have been found other than through a mammogram.

    I have two small children. My son was only 8 and my daughter 5 when I received my diagnoses.
    I am so glad that I get to stick around to be their Mommy.
    This all brings tears to my eyes to think that had this happened just a year or so ago, I may not have had those mammograms and may not have lived to enjoy my children growing up.

    I hope that my daughter will not have to fight to get early mammograms when she needs to. Who knows what my happen by then.

    Thanks for hearing me out.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  104. Annie

    This is the biggest load of crap I've ever heard!!! I know more people who've been diagnosed before the age of 40 with breast cancer than people above the age of 40. My aunt was diagnosed when she was my age and I'm not even 30 yet. The government just doens't care about any of us. Clearly the most careless people are making the most important decisions. Self exams have saved as many lives as early mammograms. I personally have a really high chance of getting breast cancer and have been pushing for a mammogram for years. This is poor treatment of humanity.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  105. Suzanne Burris

    Of course this is purely anecdotal, but I knew my maternal grandmother had been diagnosed with breast cancer in her 50's and died of leukemia (probably from the radiation she received) in her 60's, so I insisted on a mammogram when I turned 30, again when I turned 35, and had the recommended one at 40. Because the radiologist had 3 films to compare, he noticed two patches of micro-calcifications, indicators of an incipient tumor. He might not have noticed the small dots on the film had he not been able to watch them darken over 10 years. MD Anderson removed the breast and I did not need radiation or chemotherapy.

    The moral of the story: know your family medical history!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  106. Melissa

    Unfortunately, it sounds like another ploy for the government to save money by trying to back out of recommending mammograms for women at an earlier age. If they don't recommend them at 40, somehow or other insurance companies will try to find a way not to pay for them at that age. Somebody is scratching someone else's back.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  107. Shirley Ryan

    Heidi,k I'm 82 yrs old...........have been getting mamograms "forever" it seems. Can I quit now? I have benign "cysts" in my breasts, which are removed at malignancy,

    November 17, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  108. Valerie

    Actually, women should look at having Thermography vs. Mammography. Thermography can show problems 4-5 years earlier than a mammogram and there's no squishing involved.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  109. Deborah

    It's 3 months now since I was diagnosed with breast cancer thanks to self-examination. Routine mammograms didn't catch it. We should be encouraging women to do self examination and not the opposite. It's free and doesn't hurt! What are they thinking?!?!?!?!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  110. Teresa

    I believe the reason is due to the money it costs. What else could it be? This is the most irresponsible recommendation I've ever heard.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  111. D Wheeler

    Having worked at a health insurance company for many years; my first response to tis new recommendation was:–
    health insurance companies will use this government recommendation to change current coverages. Less benefits but no rate change.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  112. Shannon

    I am 31 years old, and just had a friend pass away who was also 31 from breast cancer with no family history of it. So I do not agree with the new recommendations and will get mammograms when I am given the opportunity. Self-exams are not a waste of time, I personally know at least 2 people who detected their breast cancer by performing the self-exam. These new recommendations are ridiculous. It's always better to be safe, than sorry.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  113. Allyson

    The new guidelines are fine for some people but what if your family has a history of breast cancer? Are you just supposed to accept the face that you will die from lack of medical care due to the decrease treatment time?

    November 17, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  114. tom

    Proven fact, early detection saves 91% of lives. What more do you need to know? 1 in 8 women in America will be touched by Breast Cancer in their lives. It's a no brainer to get tested every year, a mamogram is a small price to pay when it saves the life of YOUR loved one! There are groups that help pay for low income support.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  115. John Cossentino,M.D. retired general surgeon

    Heidi, This type of study gives general statistical information but an individual woman should not base her preventive medicine only on general statistics. What if a woman has a mammogram at age 40 and waits 10 years to have the next one although something suspicious would have been found at age 41. I had many patients who were found to have a cancer on the next years annual mammogram.I also had many patients who felt a breast lump themselves. Statistics are fine but do not necessarily apply to the individual. I hope women will continue to do what is best for themselves.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  116. joyce mccutcheon

    How to cut medical costs 101 – If the Gov doesn't recommend it – your insurance or Gov health care will not pay for it.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  117. Eubert G. Brown

    The information being put out on breast cancer is an insult
    to practitioners, the general public and especially to African Americans.

    While most practioneers are stressing the need for bi-annual testing
    and age 30 testing, we have some folk with a secondary agenda trying
    to brain wash the general populace with faulty facts.

    Ask that fact finding committee if those medical conclusions apply to
    African Americans who have a much more virulent type of breast cancer.

    For the general populace you do not need to be misled by this committee
    on medical facts. Go to Google and type in "Breast Cancer, African American"
    and read the facts for yourself.

    We can say and do nothing and let the Insurance Companies not pay for needed
    tests, while our loved ones leave this world at a more rapid pace and earlier age
    than the committees time for initial testing.

    Eubert G. Brown, Physician Assistant, Retired

    November 17, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  118. Lori

    I can't believe what they are recommending. I am a 39 yrs old diagnosed last July with Breast Cancer and if I would of waited until I was 40-45, it would of been worse. More and more younger women are being diagnoised younger and that is the FACT.......all women should start in their early 30's.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  119. Kathy Larson

    I don't normally do this, but I can't stay silent. This is an outrage. We have finally make a dent in breast cancer screenings and woman are going for their mammograms,like they should, now they do this. This is ludicrous.The oncologist you had on made so much sense. This is really scary. I have two daughters in their thirties. I don't want to see the guidelines we have now change to this antiquated thinking which will make it hard for them to get the medical screenings they need.
    Thank you Heidi.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  120. Normandi Therrien, RN

    The new recommendations for mammograms goes against the hard fought battle for women's health benefits. It will not just be a decision between a woman and her doctor, it will just give the insurance companies justification for denial of payment for the exams.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  121. Madeline

    PS, I did not have any risk factors for breast cancer. This excuse of causing unnecessary anxiety is ridiculous. It is better to find the problem early and giving the proper treatment within a reasonable time. I am grateful that I had my first mammogram twelve years ago for I have had more time on this earth to see modern technology change what we thought could not be changed. Why are we now going backwards?

    November 17, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  122. Nam

    Has anybody done the necessary investigative journalism to prove that insurance companies are not behind this recommendation?

    November 17, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  123. Margaret Holdeman

    As a woman who just turned 60, I have had close to 20 mammograms. Twice I was recommended to have extra views and sonograms. This didn't "harm" me, it reassured me that care was taken to be as thorough as possible. I can't believe that we are being given new recommended guidelines for mammograms by a panel that contains no oncologists!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  124. Alice Kemper,RN, Professor of Nursing(ret)

    Heidi, As a retired professor of nursing I remember this caution when looking at decisions based on statistics. There are lies, damn lies and statistics. Statistics can be skewed and no one should make serious decisions on such data unless they know who was on that panel and their expertise analyzing such data. I saw where this might miss as many as 15% of the women in their 40s with breast cancer. That is totally unacceptable. I taught Women's Health for many years and will not change my recommendations based on this report.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  125. Christine

    I think the PSFT may be pressured by the insurance industry. FOLLOW THE MONEY...Recommending to do fewer mammograms and self-exams probably saves insurance companies money in preventive exams for ALL women in the long term versus just waiting for women to get breast cancer and treat them until there is an opportunity to drop them. Somebody needs to check the data; you know the insurance companies are doing the math.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  126. Angie B. - Norcal

    I actually know a women that found her own cancer even though the doctors could not. Come on, you think women are going to stop examining themselves at their own will? We are not robots, and we know when our body changes.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  127. Mrs. Eileen G. Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    I believe that the new guidelines are a reflection of the economy in the United States. Time will prove me right or wrong.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  128. Mike Bullen

    I think we are treading on very unstable ground. Shortly after my Wife turned 41, I urged her to go and have a mamogram. Her family does not have a history of any type of cancer. It turned out she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and radiation treatments and six months later the cancer came back. At that time she had a double mastectomy. If she had waited till 50 as now recommended I would be without a wife, my three kids without a mother and now my grandchild without a grandma. If we let this type of thinking enter our society we will loose what is most precious. Obama's governmental health care is as flawed as he is receiving the nobel peace prize. Lets stop this now before we all die of cureable medical conditions. Next they will say you dont need colon exams.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  129. Regina de Albquerque

    The Health Insurance Companies should be very happy with this new ( and ridiculus) rule. My monthly payment to health insurance is extremely high and the more I pay,the less I get.
    This new rule is not about health issues at all.
    It's a shame!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  130. Stephen Richardson

    The guidelines on Mammograms are based of statistics based on specific research done in regards to the little known, or understood, area of Medicine called Epidemiology.

    In Epidemiology, a cost to benefit analysis is always done. I would like CNN to do a better explanation of what Epidemiology is and how this cost to benefit is determined with its implications. Elizabeth Cohen can do this.

    I regards to the issue of (BSE) Breast Self Exam, the American Cancer Society I believe, teaches that a "good" exam of breasts for cancer screening takes a minimum of 15 minutes. In my experience, doctors themselves do not do proper breast exams in their clinics. They need to be the ones to stop doing these exams. The effect of a woman having her annual exam is that she will do the exam the way her doctor does it. Well, if the Doctor is not doing the exam correctly, the patient will not do it correctly at home. So in this sense if the BSE is not done correctly at home 12 times per year, it will miss what it was designed to detect.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  131. Daisy

    I'm a cancer survivor for two times now. I'm 35 and was diagnosed the first time when I was 32. I see a lot of breast cancer awareness ads and activities to help women be aware of this silent killer. Mammogram is one of the ways to help women catch this killer at an early stage so, if this a new law that the government is pursuing what is the use of having lots of ads for finding a cure if women will start screening at the age of 50. Irregardless of age breast cancer can attack any age I hope our government can have their thinking straight!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  132. Carol

    Who are the "experts" who make up this group? It's incredible and frightening. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 49 and had regular screenings long before that. If these guidelines were in effect at that time, I would not be alive today, 11 years later.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  133. Joy Rudolph

    I found a lump at 39 but with no family history my family doctor said we would watch it but I decided to get a mammogram and then I had a bio and then cancer surgery and it had already spread to the lymph nodes. It came back 2 years later but am now in remission 23 years later because I followed my gut. I feel that it is wrong to put off a mammogram – are we beginning to ration who gets what. Prevention is certainly cheaper than paying for treatment not to mention the lives involved.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  134. Pat Warren

    I think this is another way for the government to tell us what is good for us and I think the insurance companies have the government in their back pocket. I am a breast cancer survivor and probably would not be if I neglected the mammograms like they want us to do. Cancer can be very aggressive and in 2 years you could be dead.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  135. Maryann Ferguson

    This seems like a stunning setback to women's health issues just when they are finally beginning to be given equal importance in the medical community. Just who makes up this "task force" – Insurance executives? And what constitutes an "unusual risk factor" for women? It took decades for experts to realize exposure to asbestos was a risk factor for workers. Do they have a psychic on the task force who can see into the future and let us know now what our current and future risk factors will be? Perhaps men should discontinue annual prostate exams and wait until their 50s to start being screened for cancer. This way they can experience first-hand what it's like to live with potentially ticking time bomb and do nothing to prevent its explosion.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  136. Gale P. Carmona

    How convenient that this study came out during the debate on health care reform. I believe that one of the reforms being discussed is that women's health insurance should cost the same as men's–right now, of course, ours is more expensive. If yearly mammographies will not be covered by our health insurance any more, and no mammography will be covered before age 50 unless we are deemed to be in a "special risk group" by our insurance carrier, costs will certainly decrease for the insurer. Reminds me of the credit card companies-lowering minimums, raises default rates and minimum payments just before the lnew credit card law takes effect. It does seem that business interests think nothing of (1) bankrupting their clients and now (2) placing a large segment of the population and increased risk of breast cancer, just so their profit margin increases and their stockholders are satisfied. This is clearly a horrendous piece of advice and I would advise all women to complain to their insurance company and to their legislators. However, it is logical, in a twisted sort of way–if we earn only about 71% of what men earn, then our lives are worth only 71%, too. What a disgrace!!!

    November 17, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  137. Marcia Scott Harrison

    I disagree with the new guidelines based upon my experience. In 1978, at the age of 38, my doctor found a pea size lump. A biopsy revealed it was cancer. Next came the aburdity of asking me if I preferred a lumpectomy or mastectomy – – partial or radical. How could I decide with no medical knowledge. Instead I called a surgeon friend of mine and he not only agreed to perform the surgery but said if I were his mother or sister he would opt for the radical as the safest way to go. I was not concerned with the cosmetic aspect. Some "people" almost ridiculed me by saying the radical was "old fashioned" and not necessary. Point is I'm here today at age 70. Add in I am a woman who took Stilbestrol or DES in 1966 and the medical-legal community is still not certain if DES causes cancer in the mother, vs. the female offspring. I have learned not to trust any particular recommendation put forth.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  138. Elizabeth Lomer

    I lost a sister to breast cancer, and my mother had both of her breasts removed, and one of my best friends, who just turned 48 years old, had both of her breasts removed. All of this was because of early detection, mammograms, and self-examination. Why not conduct a survey to see how many women who have had mammograms under the age of 50 have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and how many would have died had they not had a mammogram?
    I don't agree with our government regulating our personal lives, and I do believe that this decision will lead to many more problems for this administration.
    This is not a government of one person......our Constitution regulates that it is a government "of the people, by the people and for the people". Let's keep it that way, and stop trying to change America.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:03 am |

    I was 49 years old when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I was having regular mammography screenings beginning at age 40. I have always been proactive about my health. My mother came from a family of eight daughters and breast cancer had/has never been diagnosed in any of my aunts or the multitude of female cousins I have.

    I am very concerned that this recommendation from the feds will influence women to NOT TAKE A PROACTIVE APPROACH TO THEIR BREAST HEALTH CARE.


    DR.ABERNATHY IS WRONG! However, she would BENIFIT GREATLY FINANCIALLY when she starts seeing more and more patients who have full blown breast cancers because they waited until they were in their 50's.

    I will pay for my breast mammography's out of my own pocket if insurance companies decide they want to change their policies on annual screenings.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  140. Dotti Wahlers

    This was pushed on the public in the late eighties and a meeting was held in the early nineties in Chicago with major cancer groups at the table. The data provided substantiated that it was important for a woman 40 years and older and women with a history in their family 35 years and older have a mammogram annually so early detection could assist the woman with an earlier stage diagnosis and less mortality.
    The insurance companies have enough loop holes not to assist their clients. What has changed all that data?

    November 17, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  141. Judith Martin

    I am 71 years old. I have had mammograms faithfully and performed self-breast examinations. I had a routine Mammogram on May 20, 2009. They called me back on May 27. There were two SPOTS on the Mammogram that were not there last year. Tests followed. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 9. I had a mastectomy on June 22. The cancer was still cellular. There were two spots. One had broken through the CELLULAR wall. No lump had yet formed.
    Because it was so early, no followup medication, radiation or chemotherapy was required. All the lymph nodes were clear.
    Such early detection saved my life. I am retired from a major position at a large university. I am active, otherwise healthy and of benefit to my family and community. Killing off women like me will be a major loss to society. Who do you think does all the volunteering, parent care and grandchildren care? This is a sign of things to come, I fear.
    There is no way I will skip an annual mammogram and I have told every female I know to get it done.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  142. Susan Lenski

    One of the problems with the advice to "talk with your doctor" is that many doctors will be unduly influenced by this report and may not take into account the individual patient. Last year my doctor said that research in Canada indicated that mamograms weren't that useful in ultimately saving lives and that I didn't need a mamogram every year (despite that I'm taking HRT). These research reports analyze large data sets but don't take into account that individuals may die as a result.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  143. Joyce Girgenti

    I think the task force has been totally irresponsible in making such drastic announcements. Probably every health care professional knows of examples where lives have been saved because of "routine" mammograms and self-exam. What could be the motivation other than to cut costs for Medicare / insurance companies? But this makes no sense. Besides saving lives, the "routine" mammogram and self-exam costs much less than treating cancers.

    JRG Tampa

    November 17, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  144. sally culkin

    how outrageous i am shaking with rage twenty yrs ago due to being exposed to a dummy breast with the hard-dried pea-like lump i recognized a lump in my breast 5 days later the breast was removed. no further spread of the malignacy my daughter (in her forties) did the same thing 2 mons. ago.. she has stage 2 breast cancer. i would check the ties of this BOARD to the ins. companies are they on a cursade to wipe out women.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  145. Mary Woodward

    I was in tears when I heard of the new suggested guidelines for mammography exams. I was diagnosed 12 years ago and certainly would not be here today if it were not for that screening. Not only would I not be here but my beautiful 11 year old daughter, Mackensie would not be either. I am now 53 and a proud mother or 5 and will adamantly recomend and stay with the old guildlines for my own children's welfare as well as the population in whole.. I think the fact that there are some false negatives is heavily outweighed by the early detections that save lives. Please do not let us fall back in the progress of saving lives from this horrid cancer. Thank you

    November 17, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  146. Donna Sharp

    All of us will carry unique needs, if your risk is higher for a condition, you will continue to keep an eye out for that condition. That should not stop your Dr. from looking for other symptoms that will show other health concerns. The only blanket statement that should be taken into account on my personal health is that I need to visit my Dr. and address my personal situation with him, regardless of what other say or don't say. To convince people they don't need to see the Dr. is not in the best interest of the community. People don't see their Dr. enough as it is. What do you tell the persons that DO get breast cancer and could have caught it in time? Be over cautious, save a life.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  147. Lynne Palmer

    I am a breast cancer SURVIVER..I found a lump in my breast at age 46 and had a mammogram that led to surgery. I have been clear for 34 years and would not have survived if I had been forced to follow the new guidelines. I am now 80 and still going strong. This is an obvious sign of health care rationing if the current regime has its way.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  148. Jean Hillemann

    Seems to me that since this task force announced we don't really need the current cancer screening program and can put in place a ten-year delay; and since Medicare/Medicaid and the insurance companies can use their findings as a basis for payment of claims (or non payment) – well! isn't that convenient for our new health care program the Obama administration hopes to implement. And how foolish it is to advise not to self exam – I found tumors only a few weeks after a mammogram and surgery was required. This action will no doubt result in many women being treated for more advance cancer with less favorable results. Thank goodness the ACS has some integrity. Jean Hllemann

    November 17, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  149. Roseman

    Sounds like insurance companies funded this "research"!

    November 17, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  150. Lydia Wanders

    I was diagnosed at age 37 as a result of having a mamogram. If it weren't for that mamogram, I would not be here to type this e-mail. We are not statistics, we are women.
    Lydia W.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  151. Meredith

    Dear Heidi, I am 36 years old and was diagnosed stage 4 metastic breast cancer back in June when I was 35. If I hadn't pushed for a mammo, I could be very sick by this point or dead as since December it spread to my liver, hips, ribs, spine. I have been pushing for early detection and since being diagnosed two of my friends now have breast cancer. I officially feel like a statistic after yesterdays announcement. I guess I don't matter as I am 1 of 1900. Scary that the doctors are backing this up. Thank god I was diagnosed before this came down as I am in treatment fighting for my life to raise my two year old daughter!

    November 17, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  152. Connie

    After a routine self-exam, a lump was found, At age 45, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was not in the 'unusual risk factor' group. I would much rather see early detection rather than have to deal with later stage cancer. I am now cancer free for 6 years. Under the new guidelines, I probably would not be voicing my opinion today.

    I do not know the reasoning behind this government panel decision but it is deadly nonsense not to teach self examinations or to not recommend mammograms until 50. Sure sounds like this panel has never had a mom, daughter, sister, aunt, or grandmother with breast cancer.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  153. Mrs. Eileen G. Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    I have being hammer with the idea of having regular breast cancer screenings for 47 years. This new guide lines are being instill now to us and according to the new guidelines released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. We do not have a choice. The new recommendations will become a challenge to every woman. Now we are also hammered that breast self-exams do no good, and women shouldn't be taught to do them. What can I say for this new way of life from China?

    November 17, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  154. Debra Layne

    So they think if you don't find it you don't have to treat it? How foolish is that? I knew a young lady in her twenties who found a lump in her breast through self exam, but was told she was too young to have breast cancer, that way of thinking ended up costing her both of her breasts. There are lots of younger women who get breast cancer so maybe we should lower the age for mammograms, or maybe we should just be reasonable and follow the guidelines as they are with the understanding that self breast exams are important to catch the cancer that doesn't care how old you are, and never tell someone they are too young!

    November 17, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  155. Karen Cates

    Call me cynical, perhaps! The govt. recommendations that women under 65yrs not get mammograms might be more about money than health. If the govt. says women 40 to 50 don't need a mammogram, insurance companies will use this to deny paying for this test and early cancer detection will unequivocally go down.
    Here again money talks!

    November 17, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  156. Lea Reimers

    I am 60 and discovered a lump myself last May. I have basal cell carcinoma which is a rapidly agressive form. I have no history of breast cancer in my family but there is cancer, which my doctors say has no bearing. I have been having mammograms since I was 50. I have been seriously attentive to my health, diet, etc. Why did I get cancer? Who knows, but without self-exam, I would be in serious trouble. My oncologist says most women with breast cancers do not have a family history. It is only one of many factors. So girls, keep checking!

    November 17, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  157. Elizabeth Stultz

    This is just the descrimination promotion of the day, against women. Conservatives are trying to roll us back to 1960 in decrimination against women and all minorities. Think carefully about it as you see the daily news. They are working to diminish our rights because we are voting against them too much.
    Why doesn't someone look at how much money is spent on men's sports injuries and whether the "risk" and cost to our health care system is worth male participation in multiple or extreme sports.
    They think too much of our health care system is in use for giving birth and mamograms, but more men have multiple surgeries on knees or sholders.

    November 17, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  158. sally culkin

    heidi again i say due to my own expeerience and my daughter's this whole issue is outrageous both of ourcases were discovered by self-exams both of us were in our forties and the mammograms had not detected the lumps. my daughter's is stage 2. the whole recommendation is outrageous CHECK THIS Panel thoroughly i sense a paw-print of the insurance companies and perhaps drug company involvement. thnk u

    November 17, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  159. gene bannigan

    my wife's mammogram at age 41 revealed a lump. subsequent biopsy revealed a cancerous tumor. no family history going back two generations. had a radical masectomy. she now cancer free and 20 years out. no more visits to oncologist required. if she'd waited til 50 ? how many women in similar circumstances will shorten their lives by this type recommendation ?

    November 17, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  160. Linda Rickerson

    Re: Recent recommendations against mammograms for women age 40-49. As a breast cancer survivor DUE TO a mammogram, I am shocked beyond belief that anyone would recommend against this. My breast cancer was found at age 44 by mammogram. Is my life worth so little? Ask my husband and family what they think of this! One person saved is not enough? Ridiculous! I could go on but I am so angry that I may not stop. Feel free to call me regarding this.

    Linda Rickerson
    7 year breast cancer survivor because I had a mammogram.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  161. Jeanne Romano

    Thanks goodness you are giving this atrocity solid air time. I am a survivor of stage 4, 9ml because of yearly mamograms. It grew in a year. Had I not kept up with my exams I'd be dead!

    As with everything this is about money. Shame on them.

    Glad to be alive,
    Jeanne Romano

    November 17, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  162. Linda Bryant

    If I am one of the 15% who has breast cancer detected through mammogram in my 40's, it is well worth it. Who funded this study? Having known a number of women in their 40's for which this has been true, I absolutely reject this latest task force findings.

    I would like to know the number of people on the task force and what their ages and sex are. If the insurance companies jump on board with this latest "finding", it will be shameful indeed.

    Linda Bryant

    November 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  163. Michelle

    I am a 46 year old female who has NO history of breast cancer in my family. Therefore, I don't fall into a "high risk" group and would not be eligible for a yearly mammogram according to the new standards.

    At age 40 I had a negative mammogram. At age 43, I discovered a lump in my left breast by SELF EXAMINATION and subsequently had a mammogram. I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer with mets to the sternum!! Where would I be now if these new standards were in place? I wouldn't have had a chance, but thanks to SELF EXAMINATION, a MAMMOGRAM, two lumpectomies and a sternectomy, I AM A SURVIVOR!!!

    One more question. Are we going to change the standards for men to get prostate screenings? Hmmm...

    November 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  164. Elaine

    I would like to know the gender of the ones who decided to take away a life saving test. I have know several women who had breast cancer and they were between the ages of 32 & 39. Women should certainly have the right to these test at their own option not the goverment of men.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  165. Lizabeth Salinas

    I'd like to hear more about the real risks of breast tissue radiation and trauma from this procedure. Myself and others believe that mammograms can cause cancer. Radiating mammary glands, fatty tissue, smashing blood vessels & nerves can't be good. Some people may be more susceptible to radiation damage than others, Heart disease is the greatest threat to us and we don't get EKG's every year. I think the annual mammogram is a money making business using the fear factor.

    November 17, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  166. Georgia Spaulding Edwards, M.D.

    As a board-certified medical oncologist with over 30 years experience in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, I view the new guidelines, created without an oncologist on the panel, as an effort to ration care. These guidelines, by the admission of the panel itself, will most likely result in an increase in the breast cancer death rate. This represents medicine by economics, not by science.

    Georgia Spaulding Edwards, M.D. (ret)
    former director, Cottage Health System Breast Center
    former Director of Education, Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Institute

    November 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  167. Marian Hjelmfelt

    The report of the Mammogram Screening Panel would have been more helpful if the following info was included: When was the research, cited as the basis of the Panel recommendations, begun. Who did the research and who funded the research? Sharing this info would help answer the viewer's question if the research was related to the healthcare debate.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  168. Eileen Pastorious

    I am OUTRAGED by this! Women everywhere have been pushing for more information on how to save fellow women of the world of this horribly, disfiguring cancer, with barbaric surgeries. I am 3rd generation with Breast Cancer and I was only 39 when diagnosed. I am the only one who was diagnosed before menopause, so still not considered a "family history". Due to my diligence, the early screening saved my life. Would the task force like to explain to my husband and children (4 yrs old and 3 yrs old) why I would have died if I had followed their recommendations and waited til I was 50? Oh wait, I would have been dead by then and wouldn't be expecting my 3rd baby!
    There is a lot of men's health information out there, but not so much for women. We have come so far with women's health, and all this new information will do is set us back in the dark ages.
    I am also an Oncology nurse and just watched a 29 year old woman with a 5 month old baby die of breast cancer. Have these task force members explain to her family thier reasonings. How dare they go against what the ACS has been begging women do to for years: self breast exams and mammograms. What would Susan G. Komen think of this and all her sisters hard work? And I am so bold to say that I bet NONE of the task force members have EVER had a mother, sister, or daughter go through breast cancer. That is something that rips at the very heart of the men in the family. Most men couldn't even handle 1/2 the treatment women have to endure. The task force should be ashamed of themselves. They need to go to the Race For The Cure, one day, and watch as a sea of people affected by this disease bravely walk by them, thanking them for not opening thier big mouths a few years ago and begging them to shut thier mouths now because they have NO IDEA what they are talking about!!!
    ~Eileen Pastorious – daughter: diagnosed at 39 (18 months alive, early detection success story)
    Catherine Briggs – mother: diagnosed at 64 (7 year survivor of 2 types of breast cancer, stage 4 & and a miracle !)
    Josephine Seery – Grandmother: diagnosed at 82 (dead)

    November 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  169. d j culkin

    Today's news blitz from the U S Preventive Services is troubling and needs work. What is the source...does it have valid credentials....who funds it?? What does a recognized authority like Sloan Kettering say?
    The thrust of the report contradicts my experience with two family members. I hope CNN gets us a second opinion.

    November 17, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  170. Angie

    Once every two years between 50 and 74 is not saying that mammograms are being stopped. It just means once every two years between 50 and 74.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  171. Angie

    At 56 years old, my insurance was ripped out of my hands when my husband's High Tech job got outsourced in 2002. With his High Tech job went our health care. I have not had a mammogram at all for seven years thanks to all you Republicans who believed that American Computer specialists, programmers, engineers were too stupid for todays Technology. Now you want to complain of what? Try living without medical health care for 7 years and no doctor and no mammograms at all. It is still not a leveled playing field between me and you.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  172. Vicki Brown

    I just heard someone (male) from the task force that issued these new guidelines. He was asked about the down side of mammograms. He said they often lead to more tests and even biopsies only to find out that it was nothing.

    I went through 4 different types of mammograms, two sonograms, and finally a biopsy. The result was that I did have breast cancer. I was devastated of course. If they had told me they didn't find cancer, I would have celebrated. I would not have regretted all those tests.

    My cancer was found early and had not spread. That was two years ago. I am a survivor.

    I wonder how that man would feel if it was his wife or daughter who was one of the few who followed his guidelines and when they did find breast cancer it was Stage 2 or 3 or 4. Mine was barely a stage 1.

    I had no family history of any kind of cancer. I would not have had a yearly mammogram according to the new guidelines.

    These guidelines are used by insurance companies to set their coverage. Hmmm, I wonder who paid this group to suggest these guidelines that would save insurance companies at the expense of a few lives? Is that where we are headed?

    I am stunned and appalled by this outrage. I wish I knew their email address or website so I could write to them directly. I doubt they want to hear from me.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  173. Paul S., California

    Instead of discussing mammography which uses ionizing radiation and compression, we should be focusing on new technology like Thermography which is finding pre-cancerous conditions 5 to 7 years earlier than mammography.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  174. Pam

    I'm eternally grateful for the mammogram that found my very invasion cancer. I was only 41 and would have been dead before I reached 42. Like others, I believe that this very strange recommendation is exactly what we can expect if we would get government health care. As is, the insurance companies are happy to not pay for screenings unless forced on them. Of course, if I'd died 16 years ago, I'd have consumed a lot less health care for the rest of what would have been my life time.

    November 17, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  175. Sharon Buck

    Hi Heidi,
    Will you be able to have an investigative reporter find out which INSURANCE COMPANIES are behind the new mammogram/breast cancer screening issues? I am convinced they have put pressure on the government health organizations to change the criteria because so many women are now receiving mammograms that the cost to insurance companies is rapidly rising! We are finally succeeding in sounding the alarm across our nation for breast cancer awareness! For example my California HMO, Kaiser, advertizes free mammograms on a walk in basis, no appointment necessary. Mammograms save lives. If congress was comprised of more women, mammograms would be free and available for everyone, don't you think? We need to do everything we can do and MORE to fight and cure cancer on every front. Thanks for the chance to comment. I enjoy your show. SB

    November 17, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  176. Carol

    Can you really trust the government or any organization that is associated with them regarding this. My life was saved 8 years ago because I did self exams and my doctor order a mamogram and ultrasound. If these tests were not done the cancer would have grown and I probably would not be here today! I say any test that could even possibly save lives should be performed. The government should be looking into how to lower the costs of these tests/screenings. Healthcare which includes tests and screenings should not be rationed based on the number of lives saved, ONE life is worth it if it is your's!!!

    November 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  177. Heather Mull

    Almost 14 years ago my daughter at age 29 was diagnosed with breast cancer. She discovered the lump by self breast exam. She is the first woman in our family going back 6 generations to have breast cancer. So, there was no family history risk. Within the same time frame at least 5 other women in her age group in our community were diagnosed with breast cancer – two are no longer living ; one ignored her lump until it was too advanced to have effective treatment, and the other was told she was too young to worry,and her obgyn chose to "watch it". Both had small children who now have no mother. My daughter is 14 years out and fine after very aggressive treatment – chemo and radiation. Many women 30s to 50 are being diagnosed with breast cancer. Why would we attempt to take a step backwards in awareness at this point? Will we next be told smoking has no link to lung cancer and be told to believe it? Will National Health care be all about what is cost effective regardless of the consequences to our health?

    November 17, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  178. kathe willimson

    As unpleasant as the mammogram experience is, it is certainly worth it. Knowing whether or not it finds anything cancerous can provide a good night's sleep or a head start toward treatment. I firmly believe that early detection is important and at age 61 would be very angry if my insurance stopped paying for yearly exams. I also know several women who have found their breast lumps through self-exams and feel it is condescending to say we can't learn how to do it properly. It seems very short-sighted not to have included an oncologist in this study – all the ones I've heard comment on it disagree strongly.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  179. Nina

    My breast cancer 4 years ago was detected with a sonogram. There were many sites and all were small. Subsequent areas were detected with mammogram and others with MRI's. Nothing detected all of it. I don't believe mammograms are the best method of detection, just one of many. I never had one until I had cancer and I won't be having one ever again as I suspect one day it will be revealed that they are damaging to breast tissue.
    My question is, "why, after spending billions of dollars on cancer research, do we have no real information from the mainstream medical community on what causes cancer and how we can prevent it?"
    How about we all stop feeding the medical complex our money in the hope that they will save us? How about we stop "running for the cure" and giving money to the ACS and the NCI ? They have failed us and it needs to be acknowledged. Let's put our attention on regulation of the chemicals in our food, water and consumer products which are the more likely culprits.
    Eat organic, maintain hormonal balance by supporting your adrenals, take mineral & vit. D & omega 3 supplements and stay away from packaged junk food!! And most of all....don't stress about not getting more mammograms! It just adds to your likelihood of getting cancer in the first place.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  180. LaDonna Younger

    I'm a 44-year-old without health insurance for who knows how long because I can't afford it, so I've never had a mammogram. According to this guideline, I'm right on track. Will this new healthcare reform make it possible for me to get that mammogram at 50 without sinking further into the proverbial "black hole," or will there be more guidelines and restrictions to push that age back to 60? Remember when reforming the healthcare system, the cycle of population cannot continue outside the womb?

    November 17, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  181. Dave - Portland, OR

    This is a blatant act to reduce costs in the health care system at the expense of peoples lives. It is an example of what we will see a lot more of if government run health care passes. My wife is a breast cancer survivor and, if not for early screenings, she would probably not be alive today. Our surgeon told us that one of the biggest fallacies about breast cancer is feeling secure because you do not have risk factors. He said the main risk factor for getting breast cancer is being a woman. My wife had no family history of the disease and no reason to think she was at risk so, under this recommendation, she would not have been getting screened. The only thing a false positive in a screening mammogram will do is indicate the need for more thorough testing. When it is someones life your talking about, what is the problem with that. None, except for the cost of course.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  182. April Erickson

    At age 43, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was found on a mammorgram. I would never had found the tumors as they were attached to my chest wall. I was given only 18 months to live, but by the grace of God and horrific treatment, I am still alive 16 years later. To suggest women not have mamograms routinely until they are 50 years old is basically a death sentence for millions and millions of women.

    April Erickson

    November 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  183. Liz Appleby

    this should be a wake up call for what is to come with health care reform. I notice nothing is mentioned after the age of 74. Im 78. I guess 74 is the plug pull.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  184. Terry Hart

    Soft money and lobbyists will be the death of this country, and specifically the death of many women who are victims of health
    care industry influence. Early detection is critical.

    As mentioned in an earlier blog, thermography is another early detection imagery method that does not use ionizing radiation or compression but does provide a five to seven year advance preview of potential future disease.

    November 17, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  185. Daniella Recavarren

    Ah, there we go burocrats deciding how, when and what we get for health care. My sister was diagnosed at 38 through mammogram and is alive today!!!

    A better diagnosing tool: Thermogram, it detects cancer cells years before the tumor is big enough to be seen by mamogram
    Google Rose Clinic in Southern California, Dr. Jean Stricker.

    We need to empower women, not let them be bullied by so called experts whose main aim is to save money at the expense of our lives!

    November 17, 2009 at 9:10 pm |
  186. David Molnar

    I think this is A way that the government is starting their death squads. I am A man but early detection leads to a better chance of survival. With the new guide line if some thing happens I guess you are out of luck. This is just the beginning of ways to get rid of people. For the life of me who are these people. They sure don't work for the American public. I am A cancer survivor and need to have CT scan at least every 6 months. Is it possible they will say I don't need it so often. Good case in point why don't you just die.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  187. David

    At this pt, as I understand, mammography is the best method of early detection of possible breast cancer. It's questionable that UPSTF looked at these numbers several years ago and came to a different view this time. Also, breast self exams would be a trigger for a mammogram so why anyone would discourage both is a question too.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:02 pm |
  188. Dorothy

    This is ridiculous - here's the first salvo in rationed, socialized medicine. It will only get worse! - Mammograms for women in their 40's save lives - an indisputable fact. Next week we will probably get a new report from the Surgeon General that (oops!) we were wrong about smoking - it's really not that bad for you. Do these people think the American public is that stupid!!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  189. David

    You people are lucky you don't have to hang out with these folks who do cost-effectiveness research. That field employs a whole slew of people who get paid millions of dollars of your tax money to do very crappy research.

    A huge chunk of the value of health care lies in its reassurance benefits. The only reason I occasionally go to the doctor is to verify I'm not dying of a horrific disease. The cost-effectiveness of mammography ignores this fundamental value to patients.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  190. Karen

    Heidi – What the "organizations" and "investigative reporters" are missing is the fact that there is another test we women can use to detect breast cancer, and to preview potential disease several years ahead. My mother died of breast cancer so I have studied my options, doing whatever I can to protect myself. I learned that typical mammography requires ioizing radiation, and may be damaging itself. It also requires compression of the tissues which may also increase spead of diseased cells. I chose a doctor who specializes in Thermography. It is an early detection imagery method that does not use ionizing radiation or compression but does provide a five to seven year advance preview of potential future disease, and is also very affordable. The typical "medical community" has huge investments in mammography equipment, and insurance companies are tied to that investment. I don't know if any health insurance covers Thermography for early breast cancer detection, mine doesn't, but it has been worth every penny I have spent to chose this option. Please have your "investigative reporters" research this option and tell women they do have a choice, one that is much more comprehensive, much more affordable, and much more indepth than mammography. Women, especially those of us with breast cancer in our family, need to know they have an option. We have study,learn the best choices to get care of ourselves. Thanks.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:48 am |
  191. Josephine glover

    My niece at 40 years old was told by her doctor to get her 1st mammogram. The result of her test showed she had breast cancer, stage three. What a shock!. Can you imagine if she had waited ?

    November 18, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  192. sandy

    Hey folks, welcome to the real purpose of health care reform! Cost reduction...breast care health is expensive but we have better results here in the USA than Canada or GB where the availability of drugs & procedures is curtailed...same with heart health. NOW do you see why we do NOT want the individuals health dependent on a govt run plan, be it single payer, cooperatives, etc? Target hc reform to the3 exact problems, do not revamp the whole system!

    November 18, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  193. Jodi Leingang

    I just want to thank Dr Guypta for his persistence on this topic this am with the prevention task force spokesperson. I appreciate his response relative to adding life years...I was also alarmed and could not believe what I heard from this woman's mouth...added life years does mean something if it is your year is important. And beyond that, think of the accomplishments humans have made in a years time!!! Unbelievable!

    November 18, 2009 at 9:34 am |
  194. Nadia Saccardi

    Between our right to abortion being jeopardized and now these new mammogram guidelines, I feel as a woman that forces are working hard against us. My question is: if this panel (composed of women of course?!) is able to push this recommendation/guideline through, do we as citizens have the ability to SUE if indeed we find ourselves suddenly dying of breast cancer because it was not found early enough? A friend of mine ONLY survived a very aggressive form of breast cancer thanks to self examination, so all of this does not make sense. Education is the most important tool in the world and my children will be taught self examination! Maybe legal action will be an incentive for this panel to review their guidelines...

    November 18, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  195. Bruce Rivers

    Re:Task force's new recommendation on mammograms. I would seriously question the political leanings of the commision. It sounds as if the health insurance companies may have made some contributions to commission members. Supposedly they were using the same information that was used to make the previous recommendations in 2002. With different members now, they have concluded the earlier recommendation was incorrect.

    November 18, 2009 at 10:01 am |
  196. Terry

    My wife had no history of breast cancer. It was discovered when she was 47. She died nine years later. I guess statistically she was a survivor, because she lived more than five years.

    November 18, 2009 at 10:07 am |
  197. jean

    After reading so many stories from women who are survivors,it seems the reality is women should listen to their doctors when to have a mammogram. I really have nothing good to say about insurance companies.One more reason to deny coverage. It goes along with the story recently about name brand drugs rising in price. Drug companies and insurance companies will definitely use this recommendation against women. All you women whose stories I just read- you are an inspiration to me and many women out there. The courage you've shown in the face of such a terrible disease, makes me proud to be a woman!

    November 18, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  198. Lori C.

    I think it's awful and dangerous for this panel to give this recommendation when it goes against everything we know to be true!! The insurance industry must be over the moon happy about this so they can in the future deny paying for mammograms for women ages 40 to 49.

    November 18, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  199. Verda Campbell

    Hi Heidi

    I had my breast cancer in 1986 and thankful mamagram and ultra sound proved it. I am very fortunate to have had these and at that time did not even know what they were.

    However; my sergeon and onacologis insisted I have follow up bone scans yearly, and follow up with blood work for cancer cells.

    I am a firm believer that not just breast cancer but all types can be found if the right blood work is done for cancer cells every 6 mos or in routine physicals. This is the test insurances do not want to take however this is the way drs keep tab of cancer when you are in treatment. A lot of money could be saved on mamagrams and other X-Rays if they would only concentrate on cells with blood work and other tests,and then follow up with with others as needed. There is no need to do all concentration on mamagrams however I feel that they do need them. Both my husband and I had cancer and many in family and this is how they know how we were doing and still do with blood work. Take it for what is it worth but we need to be doing studies on blood work for cells (White/Red) to make sure there is nothing that looks strange in those areas just like arteries.

    Thanks for listening

    November 18, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  200. Jane

    PLEASE! give this a rest! Why all the confusion?
    If you want a mammogram, get one, this is just a
    suggession for heaven sakes.
    I really can believe all the attacks over this.
    This suggestion was made by doctors and researchers.
    If you don't agree, go quietly and get your mammogram.
    That your perogative, mine is to wait.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  201. Jocelyn Angelone

    I was 43 when diagnosed with DCIS from a routine mammogram. After five surgeries including a double mastectomy, I am still thankful that I caught it early as I took out chemotherapy out of the equation. Knowing that I had caught the cancer early was actually a relief and blessing. There is no information out there to state when DCIS will become invasive. Would you want take that risk and wait till it had metastasized? Information is a good thing even when it is false positive.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  202. Carol

    It's terrifying to contemplate the ramifications of this irresponsible, irrational recommendation. What a tool for insurance companies to control costs since many of these women won't even reach age 50!

    November 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm |

    My biggest concern that nobody from the medical community seems to address, is the fact that exposure to radiation is accumulative, and quite frankly, it has the ability to raise our risks of breast cancer. So, damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Thermography sounds like a possible alternative to repeated exposure to radiation. The new guidelines are just that. Guidelines. It is a personal decision.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  204. David

    Tony, I have two questions about the rept on Sec Clinton's visit to Afghanistan. 906 or 603 civilians in Afghanistan? They will follow the military, what does that mean? They are attached to military units? They are supervised by the military? They enter areas after the military instead of in advance of the military?

    Also you asked if the amt that Goldman Sachs was devoting to the Small Business Initiative is substantial. Goldman Sachs bonuses of 17M about 3% of the 500M they will allocate to Small Business Initiative. What do I make of that?

    November 18, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  205. Maria

    Two issues that are curious, this is another woman's issue and in the middle of health care debate.
    What's next? Pap Smears?
    I guess we still are living in a man's world.
    Where are the studies for PSA and false positives?

    November 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  206. Peggy

    I tend to agree with the new guidelines. After having a baby and turning 40 I went for a mamogram and was diagnosed with calcifications. I wanted to wait 6 months before surgery as I had read the spots could be due to breastfeeding but was ushered into surgery. I had to deal with the thought of having breast cancer, dying etc. It was painful and I have a reminder scar. I was fine. I remember thinking at the time that the rules were way too inclusive and over the top as no one in my family had a history of breast cancer and I never had any lumps etc. I had just moved to the US and felt the rush to surgery was too much. I think the new guidelines appropriately raise this concern that women have. It's like litigation in this country, everyone is so afraid of being sued on the off chance that costs for everyone have skyrocketed. Being overly surgically protective causes harm.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  207. Dorothy

    My niece had a baseline mammogram done at age 36 at the reccommendation of her doctor. The doctor believed in getting a baseline at age 35. She was doing self breast exams and felt nothing. A cancer was found in the breast and some lymph nodes. She had a double mastectomy and chemo and radiation. She was not in a high risk group.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  208. Sharon

    It is time to consider thermography as another early detection imagery method that does not use ionizing radiation or compression but does provide a five to seven year advance preview of potential future disease. Why doesn't health insurance cover this?

    November 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  209. Chris

    What is irresponsible here is Dr. Gupta's interview with the woman who spoke for the group recommending the change in age from 40 to 50. He's basically asking her if she wants women to die. If you actually look at the data then you will see that there is about a 0.4% chance of getting breast cancer at age 30, about a 1.4% chance at age 40, and about a 2.4% change at age 50. If everyone thinks that 1% difference from age 40 to 50 is so important, then why don't we have all women start at age 30 – it's a whole 1% the other way. Or are you saying that 0.4% isn't a big enough deal to warrant the extra expense of more exams?? Because if that's what you're saying, then you're buying the same argument that is being made for moving the threshold to age 50. The only difference is how much expense is justified by the extra risk ... and everyone is going to have a different opinion on that. Let's just take it to the extreme and have every test under the sun performed on everybody every year! You have to draw the line somewhere...

    November 18, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  210. alyson

    i was diagnosed 6 months ago with breast cancer at age 48,,i know the digital mammogram saved my life,,who is this goverment task force? id like to know exactly who they are...

    November 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  211. Kathryn

    I would like to ask two questions:

    1. Are the individuals on this task force receiving any kind of "compensation" from lobbyist groups, insurance companies, etc. to reach their new recommendations? Those of you who say "you can still go ahead and get a mammogram" need to realize that this will be the reason your insurance company will deny payment. I have a VERY good friend (with absolutely NO family history) that would not be here today without this screening.

    2. Will all the female members of the House and Senate or their spouses follow this new guideline? Are they willing to forgo their health or their spouse's health?

    What has happened to the "treat others as you want to be treated" in this county??

    I think these new guidelines are

    November 18, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  212. Tara

    I am outraged at yet another attempt of the government along with the insurance companies to cut costs at potentially life saving screenings. That's just fabulous that they are giving these recommendations that "we don't have to follow", but when the insurance companies decide that's all they'll pay for is what is recommended, what happens to women who can't afford them? I am 35 years old and my doctor recommended a baseline mammogram this year. Guess what, I have no family history and no risk factors and I am due back in 6 months to make sure what they found is not spreading or changing. It's time we say enough is enough! Make up your 1 trillion dollar expense for the new government run healthcare elsewhere-better yet–leave it alone!

    November 18, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  213. Connie McAdams

    I was 44 when a mammogram found my breast cancer the first time!!! If I had waited until I was 50, it would have been growing in me for 6 years and probably spread to lymph nodes! It's preposterous to wait until a woman is 50! I'm alive today because of a mammogram at 44 year of age. I'm 60 now.

    Pittsfield, Illinois

    November 18, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  214. Kaytlin Hollingsworth

    This is ridiculous. One of my best friends mother decided she was too young to have a mammogram every year. She skipped one year and when she followed up after skipping a year, she was found to have Stage 4 invasive cancer. Nothing could be done to help her. She died within 3 weeks; She was only 41 years old. If she had went every year she could be alive today. Now this same scenario is going to happen to all of the people who decide to wait. It's crazy that these people are saying that screening at an earlier age is unneccesary. It's simply a way to save money. One should never sacrifice lives in order to save money.

    November 18, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  215. Dewey Fish

    THERMOGRAMS..... Thermograms.... thermograms.... Not Mammograms.... Stupid!

    November 18, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  216. Meredith

    The guidlines should read:
    Those with breast cancer in immediate family history should have mammograms every year from age 40 on.
    Those with no breast cancer in immdiate family history but do have some kind of cancer in family history should have mammograms every other year from age 40 and on.
    Those with no breast cancer or any cancer in immediate family history at all should have mammograms once every 2 from age 50 and on.
    Those who were adopted and do not know their family medical history should have mammograms every year from age 40 just in case.

    November 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  217. jeni mulder

    Had I followed these guidelines I would be dead . I had a normal mammogram when I was 42 years old . Because I did my own breast exam I found an area that had changed . my biopsy showed invasive cancer at an early stage . Women need to perform self exams and have mammograms . It saved my life 9 years ago.

    November 18, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  218. David Strasemeier

    They are recommendations by a panel. Without an oncologist on the panel, I doubt they will become a standard. Most oncologist recommend a mammogram after 40, and I would tell my daughter to follow that guideline. The panel has nothing to do with the healthcare bill as some Repubican lawmakers would like you to believe.

    November 18, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  219. David

    Heidi, does the UPSTF have a spokesperson? What are the harms they are concerned about with mammography? What are the actual numbers they are looking at to come to their findings? How would their findings specifically influence the insurance industry and what recommendations from what groups or committees do insurance companies look to for guidance on coverage, or do they come to those decisions based in part on their own internal research? I do think the recommendations such as I am learning about them endanger the chances of early detection. And, there does seem to be more to the study findings than the recommendations indicate, as came up in your intvw with Dr. Holt. These are my thoughts and questions now.

    November 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  220. sally c

    If it was not for self exam and mammagraphy, I would be dead.
    Twenty three years ago with self exam and x-ray mine was discovered even though I had had my regular check-up 4 months earllier.

    It was a very aggressive and if not caught when I discovered it and got to my doctor, I would not be here today.

    I was a widow with 4 young kids.
    So I feel these so called experts are so wrong and wonder how many would like to watch one of their loved ones go along with the recommendations and then watch that love one die because of this New thought process???

    They do not realize what this is doing out their to the public and it is ridiculous and here we go again with it being women and decisions made about a woman's health.

    S. Conway

    November 18, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  221. sally c

    I need to add I was only 33 when I found my cancer!!!
    S. Conway

    November 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  222. christa

    Of course the Government wants us poor people used to be middleclass people, to die. It cost too much on healthcare for us and also when women die younger they do not have to pay their Social Security, because it seems to me the only time they need us, is when they want our votes. Ms.Sebelius has an Insurance provided for her by Government paid by us the taxpayer, it is easy for her to say, because she also makes enough money tp pay for a mammogram out of her own pocket. So all the Government does is kill us women slowly, because we are only good for them when we are young and healthy, why we still take all of that I do not understand. So we take all the stuff they give us, til the next time they need our vote.

    November 18, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  223. John

    mammograms are no longer recommended at age 40 for the very same reasons that they are not recommended at age 30.

    November 18, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  224. Nathan

    Just ignore this so called "task force".

    November 18, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  225. kenneth dolkart

    I have been practising internal medicine and geriatrics for the past 30 years, currently at Dartmouth, and my question for you is? Where do you get such UNIFORMED "experts" such as Candy Crawley interviewed this evening? " (7:10 EST) on CNN Tonight.
    I know you wish to sell advertising, but it was NOT MADE CLEAR that the US Preventive Services Health Taskforce Guidlines have been published numerous times per year for the past 30 years, are a consensus panel INDEPENDENT from ANY governement administration, are often controversial due to genuine scientific uncertainties and updated as new studies become available. The fact that you EVEN AIRED a cynical republican manipulating these guidelines to suggest that these ongoing and changing guidlines reflect the slippery slope of rationing is just poor journalism! – DO YOUR HOMEWORK when it comes to medical matters, DON"T help make the American public more ignorant and fearful of death panels then the republican party has already accomplished!
    Whatever happened to responsible journalists who do their homework and enlighten rather than confuse an informed public?

    November 18, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
  226. Mona Benge

    The task force that just issued the controversial recommendation on mammograms is a hold over from the Bush Administration. Interesting that they came out with this recommendation while health care reform is working its way through the congress to unanimous Republican opposition. No surprise that the Republicans are labeling the recommendation as an example of rationed health care. Is there a term limit to appointed members of the task force? If so, when is it up? Unless CNN reports that it is a Republican task force, people will think it is the Obama administration that is responsible for the controversy which would not be fair.

    November 18, 2009 at 7:32 pm |
  227. Anjali Aggarwal

    I am a 30 year old, & not a high risk indiviual recently diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Wonder if I had a mammogram would probably have not been stage 3. Mammograms should be made routine for all women afer 18. Health policies in the US are retrogressing rather than advancing. What quacks do we have sitting behind the desks making these changes?

    November 18, 2009 at 7:43 pm |
  228. Bob

    Colon cancer is a more common problem in our population (it affects both males and females) and we know that there some people dying from this cancer before age 50. Should we screen them at an earlier age too? If someone smokes a pack a day for 40 years, they are obviously at a high risk to get lung cancer. Should they get a CT scan? It could save their life. Recommendations for any screening procedure are based on the availability of the test, how effective the test is, sensitivity and specificity of the test, how effective is the treatment if cancer detected, risks of finding a false positive.....and the cost!! There has to be a cost analysis on all screening tests. If not we should screen everybody for all cancers....start PSA at a younger age, get CT of the lung on all patients who excessively smoke, cardiac MRI (which is much safer than a mammogram) of all high school football players to rule out hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and start doing genetic tests as well. (By the way, the radiation received during mammogram is not insignificant). Canada does not start screening mammogram till age 50. Is there death rate from breast cancer higher? This is a very complicated issue. I am getting tired of these breast cancer docs or radiologist quoting some studies because there is evidence against screening this age group 40-49 as well. The chances of a mammogram saving a person's life in this age group is not high. Mammogram misses more cancer in younger people....and we know there are risks to getting a mammogram. If we are so worried about getting a cancer, then maybe we should stop smoking, drinking, being overweight, eating junk food, and exercise. This would save so many more lives than a mammogram b/w the ages of 40-49.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:49 pm |
  229. Stephanie Jenkins

    This is a government panel under the influence of Obama care. This panel wil affect the coverage insurance companies provide. Women in their forties will not get mammogram coverage so 36 million people will get "free health care' at the expense of 40 year old women.This is Obama care. How mad is this whole concept ?

    November 18, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
  230. Gail Bado

    The new guidelines seem to be a major setback in regard to the mortality rates of younger women who get breast cancer. In addition, if the diagnosis comes at later stages the treatment, if that's even an option, can be that much more severe. Women have always had the choice to say no to mammograms but will the choice remain theirs or will they now be dictated to by insurance rulings based on the current recommendations? Will this be the beginning of deaths once again increasing due to breast cancer?

    I am one of those women who in my early 40's had my life saved by having mammograms at an early age with no family history of breast cancer. If not for the foresight of my Dr. I would probably be dead now. It was because of those mammograms in my late 30's that there was baseline data to compare to the one I had at age 44. A nodule that was spotted turned out to be a 0.6 cm tumor that had already reached my lymphatic system.

    Life has stress and there are risks crossing the street but why would we risk lives when we don't have to? Are we taking a giant medical step backwards?

    Happy to be turning 60!

    November 18, 2009 at 10:06 pm |
  231. Susan

    Just another sign of times to come sooner than later. As far as mammograms – who invented this barbaric, radiation producing, humiliating, smashing technique in the first place? There is another way to check for possible tumors/problems of the breast – and much preferable – Thermography – non-invasive, non-radiating, non-smashing, non-painful way to detect any potential problem from 4 to 7 years BEFORE serious consequences arise – way before it shows up on a mammogram. Early detection is the key, right? Then mammography is part of the dark ages as far as I'm concerned. Tell me this – would men want to subject their testicles to such a test? NEVER!!! I personally don't care what ages the screening is available – as I will never consent to another mammogram! When I know that Thermography is the answer – and if more info is needed – have a followup ultrasound. Go on the web and educate yourself on this – it could be life-saving. It is my feeling when women find out there are much better alternatives to mammography – they will go in droves to search it out. Men and women can benefit greatly with Thermography for the entire body. It has been around for decades – it is not new, but the info on this simply isn't reported like the money-making machine (mammography). I don't want a yearly dose of radiation that mammography gives – as it.could be a big factor in so many women getting breast cancer in the first place. And I don't know about you, but I'm not into pain.Smashing my breasts under a cold, hard machine is not my idea of treating my body kindly. And it could be doing more harm than good. As with anything you have to take a good hard look at the pros and the cons and make up your own mind. Follow the money when in doubt. By the time a mammogram shows something – it's often advanced and could be too late to get the kind of outcome you might want. Thanks for reading – hope this helps someone.

    November 18, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  232. scott

    I have respected and trusted Dr. Gupta - until now. I watched his report on the mammogram issue and was truly disappointed. He chose to take a single piect of information and use it to abuse the person he was interviewing in order to make an editorial statement. This is an issue which needs some calm, dispassionate review, analysis and reporting. Dr. Gupta and CNN blew it. You simply chose to feed the fires of emotion. I will not be able to trust or respect Dr. Gupta in the future. This was an embarassment for both of you. I expect this of Rush Limbaugh and his ilk. I expected better of you. Silly me.

    November 18, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  233. Sally Jo

    Why hasn't anyone talked about the difference between Mammograms and Digital Mammograms. I have had two friends (1 in 40's and another in 60's) who died from breast cancer. They both were getting reg. mammograms and learned – to late – that if they had been digital, they may have found cancerous tumors sooner. Is this not an issue first before how often they are given? I recently went for a mammogram and just before they started asked, "This is a digital mammograms right?" I was told no and had to cancel and find a hospital that gave digital mammograms as the one friend who died had suggested. Please let women know that it is very important to get digital mammograms! They hurt less too!

    November 19, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  234. Melissa

    How about we just stop brushing our teeth and using fluoride rinse too. Then in a few years, we will wonder where our beautiful smiles went. When you find something that works, why mess with it? I wonder if anyone on this panel had a loved one with who was touched by cancer.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  235. patty Ursomanno

    I am just wondering, those women in our government like congress senate ect, are they getting mamograms at an earyer age, why is it that OUR so called leaders have there own laws health care and salaries, meang while people are loosing jobs i would like to know how many raises those in OUR government received since 2001, and why is there health care so much better, they should again lead by example, take pay cuts, have the same health care as US, and obay the same laws, not say oh im on meds (like P.Kennedy) I'm tired of it being common noledge that politicians are liers and cheats, next election let all canidates have FREE air time so there will be no corruption, sorry about the tangent.. DONT PUT WOMENS LIVES IN JEPARDY,

    November 19, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  236. patty Ursomanno

    wanna fix health care, have ALL graduating doctors have to give 4 yrs to there country at a set salary paid bt the government, this way they put there time in and WE the PEOPLE will get our healthcare, consider it a way of passage, and YES women should get the care they need, HOW MUCH IS ONE LIFE WORTH !!!

    November 19, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  237. norma porchetta

    I have not heard anything about the political affiliations of the members of the panel, and why they came out with that particular recommendation at this particular time, while health care and the public option are being debated. The political result is to frighten the public about "government panels" and the public option... it seems to me that this "opinion" by the panel could have come out at any time... why now? I feel the decision to come out with the panel opinion now was politically motivated.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  238. Al Swilling

    First of all, the statement issued by the so-called "task force" is the stupidest, most irresponsible statement I have heard from the government since Bush announced that our troops were going to invade Iraq.

    In response to the asinine recommendation, all the discussion I have heard on CNN is about women in their 40s and 50s, but what about women below 40? Shouldn't they have regular checkups, too? Not only did the "task force" advise against mammograms, it also said that women should not be taught to examine themselves. It seems to me that all women, from the time they develop breasts, should examine themselves regularly in addition to having regularly scheduled mammograms.

    I have known three women under 40–one in her 20s–who developed breast cancer. Fortunately, because they did examine themselves and had regular checkups, doctors were able to remove the cancer without recurrence or mastectomy.

    Also related, my mother-in-law, Jean; because her doctor only scheduled her mammograms for every two years, developed breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy. It was psychologically devastating for her, not just losing her breast, but anxiety over whether the cancer would return in another part of her body and what her husband would think of her after she had the mastectomy. Fortunately for her, the cancer did not recur, and her husband loved her for all the right reasons and was very understanding and even more affectionate with her after her surgery.

    If Jean's doctor had scheduled mammograms every year instead of every two years, chances are that the cancer would have been caught in time to save her breast and all the anxiety she suffered.

    If the "task force" made such a stupid recommendation concerning breast exams, then how many other incompetent recommendations have they made? I think a review of all of the task force's recommendations is in order.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  239. Tim

    Have the majority of you people lost your minds? First of all, this is not really a government panel per se. Secondly, this group has simply pointed out that there is a fair chance that a woman can receive a false positive from a mammogram. Third, and most important, is that no one is taking your mammograms away. If your health insurance won't cover annual mammograms, then give em hell. Besides, imagine the PR problems that insurance company would have if they didn't cover the procedure annually!
    People, please stop getting hysterical every time someone or some group reveals the results of a study. CALM DOWN!
    I did notice that blame has already spread to Obama. That is just plain crazy talk!

    November 19, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  240. Emily Grace

    We are all quick to assume that this new recommendation is just an excuse to save money. However, I feel that if people would take time to read the entire report they would see that the recommendation focuses more on the importance of the woman/doctor relationship. It advises women to speak with their doctor about FAMILY HISTORY, diet, and lifestyle before becoming an annual screening canidate after the age of forty. The more informed a woman is about breast cancer the easier it is to prevent herself from those dangers. Having an annual test that she knows nothing about is not going to help her or anyone else really.

    November 19, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  241. Angie

    This is the example of people not getting the facts.
    It was President Bush who appointed the people on the US Preventive Services Task Force, Not Obama.
    The US Preventive Services Task Force pannel who made the decision of creating a decision on a study that hurts women's health, happen to be loyal to the Political party that hired them, that is the Republican Party.
    Strange that the US Preventive Services Task Force comes out with a statement that the Senate Republicans try to associate with the Health Care Reform during the same time that the Health Care Reform is before the Senate.
    Is the US Preventive Services Task Force pannel's decision of changing the guidelines for breast cancer Politically Motivated?
    "You Betcha!"

    November 19, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  242. David

    @Emily Grace I think talking to one's physician is always a priority. The fact is the UPSTF is going forward with recommendations that the ACS almost went forward with last month, it's questionable in both cases. So, I don't think you can just say the pt of the UPSTF recommendations is to get women talking to their doctors more. But talking to one's physician is a must.

    @Angie. According to you the UPSTF is politically motivated. So you're saying they have no loyalty to medicine or professional or ethical scruples? However, your post does go to the point of who sits on this panel, what dept the committee is in, and what are the professional qualifications of it's members.

    Interestingly there is no article about the actual study itself on

    November 19, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  243. Claire Lindberg, PhD, RN

    I was shocked at Dr Sanjay Gupta's tone and questioning when he interviewed Dr. Lucy Marion about the new mammography guidelines. First (and least ) of all, Dr. Marion is not verbally identified by Dr. Gupta. The viewer has to wait until her name flashes (just once) across the screen. Nor is her role thoroughly explained to the viewers. In addition, and most importantly, I found Dr. Gupta's treatment of Dr. Marion to be overly aggressive and hostile. Dr. Gupta puts words into Dr. Marions mouth – words that a careful listener will notice that she did not say or even allude to. Quoting Dr. Gupta "You are a nurse...You are in a profession of healing and compassion. Are you comfortable with what you are saying now? Because what you are saying...what I'm hearing you say is that you are saying some lives aren't worth it and that's why we're changing these screening recommendations. And that is an incredibly frightening thing to hear form someone like yourself." With these words, Dr. Gupta misrepresents Dr. Marions' words – and with great hostility. Dr. Marion was trying to explain how the research leads to the conclusion that risks and benefits of performing mammography in this age group are not balanced and that indeed some risks may outweigh the benefits. She in no way indicates that some lives are "not worth it."
    Not only was Dr. Gupta disrespectful and overly aggressive, he made it obvious that he does not understand evidence-based practice which presents health care professionals with expert opinion which is to be applied to individual patients, considering their individual risks, circumstances and wishes.
    Being a daily CNN watcher, I also noticed that his manner of questioning never reaches the same level of hostility and disrespect when he interviews phsycians as it is with this very accomplished nursing leader.
    The role of the health "experts" on CNN should not be to incite anxiety among the public but to carefully explain the real implications of such things as health recommendations from expert panels. I am truly disappointed in this segment and think an apology is due to Dr. Marion, the nursing community and the public.
    Claire Lindberg, PhD, RN,
    Family Nurse Practitioner and Professor, The College of New Jersey

    November 19, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  244. Sheryl

    I am a woman aged 63 and have not had a mammogram for over 5 years. I do however have an ultrasound and am considering using thermography in the future. I do not believe it is good for our breasts which have such sensitive tissue to be exposed to so much radiation starting at age 40 when there are other SAFER ways to view the breasts. I am a little stunned however to hear this panel say that women should not be taught self exam. What can that possibly hurt?? Many women have discovered their cancers by feeling a lump in a self exam. Having said that however, I do think it is possible that these new guidelines are a way to begin rationing health care in order to save money.

    November 19, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  245. Sara

    This health care reform is really tossing women under the bus – First by removing our reproductive choices, including abortion, and now mammograms.

    We need to be vigilant and continue to stand up for our rights – our public officials will not do it for us.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  246. Gary Leggitt

    Concerning the new Mammogram guidelines, I have a true story from my partner! she had her regularly scheduled mammogram in January, with no abnormal results. In April, during a now not recommended self exam, she noticed a lump in her breast! Returning
    to her doctor, had a sonogram performed which showed a mass in hher breast. She has since had to undergo double mastectomy, chemo treatment, and is now having Radiation. We are hoping this will save her life! If she hadn't done a self exam in the shower, this disease could have gone even further before detection! How can knowledable professionals make these statements? The evidence that I am aware of contradict their findings.

    November 20, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  247. Nash Gabrail, M.D., Medical Oncologist

    Where are the experts (meaning the physicians, especially the medical oncologists) who actually are the most educated about cancer biology? They will tell you that the panel's recommendation has a true, scientific basis.

    November 21, 2009 at 7:42 am |
  248. laura russell

    How can they say self-exams do no good!!!! I know of several women who found lumps that turned out to be cancerous....Is this panel made up of MEN??? How about no PSA screenings until you're at least 65??? Mammograms catch alot of cancers and with more younger women having earlier breast cancers, it seems really dumb for them to say they don't need them. I suppose we don't need yearly physicals either? Better to find some problem early on than to have to deal with major problems later!

    November 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  249. Lorraine White

    When I was 47 I had an annual mammogram. The radiologist immediately read it and immediately ordered an ultrasound. That evening my GYN called me several times to get me and stated that there was something unusual showing up and I needed to contact a surgeon immediately. I did. As soon as I could, I scheduled a biopsy.
    A lumpectomy was done, hoping to save my breast as well as a lymphnodeectomy. I had 3 of 5 lymponodes positive for cancer. The cancer was removed from my breast, and my breast was 75% saved. Because of the positive lymphnodes I went thru 6 months of chemo and 7 weeks, every day, of radiation. If I did not have that annual mammogram at that time I would be dead today. I am now 60 so its been almost 13 years. I am still paranoid every time I feel a pain on that side or think something else weird that could be related. It's better than dead. I just wanted you to hear my story. I will be doing the BRCA gene test to see if I will be passing it on to my daughter. Thanks for listening.

    November 23, 2009 at 7:40 pm |

    I don't think I've seen this said in such a way before. You really have cleared this up for me. Thank you!

    May 31, 2010 at 6:40 pm |