In a recent new story, over 60 members of Congress, some speaking in very personal terms, asked the Department of Health and Human Services to reject a report from an independent health panel questioning the benefits of regular breast cancer screenings for women in their 40s. Citing concerns that if the Department of Health and Human Services concurs with the recommendations of the Preventative Services Task Force, it could lead insurers to drop coverage for annual mammography testing for women in their 40s.
The panel, made up of non-government health experts, said screenings for women in their 40s benefit some women, but not most, and that some will be harmed.
According to the story, ” Any discouragement of breast cancer screenings sends the wrong message, suggested the 62 members of Congress in a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell.”
In other information recently published by an industry physician, Dr. Daniel Kopans:
- The randomized, controlled trials of breast cancer screening proved that early detection reduces deaths for women ages 40 to 74.
- Numerous observational studies have shown that when screening is introduced into general populations, the death rate from breast cancer goes down. In countries where modern therapies are available, the largest decline in deaths is among women who participate in screening.
- Screening began in the U.S. in the mid-1980s, and for the first time in 50 years the death rate from breast cancer began to decline in 1990. As more and more women have participated in screening, the death rate has continued to decline. There are now 35% fewer women dying of breast cancer each year than there would be if screening had not been introduced.
- In 1990, the breast cancer death rate for men went up despite access to modern therapies. It later came back down to 1990 levels but has stayed there while the death rate for women has continued to decline. Men are not screened.
- In the major Harvard teaching hospitals, more than 70% of the women who died from breast cancer were among the 20% of women who were not participating in screening despite access to modern therapies.
- The Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) models used by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) all show that the most lives are saved by annual mammography beginning at the age of 40.
Diagnostic Imaging Services has always encourage women to speak with their health care provider about what is best for them. Should a decision be made that a screening mammogram is the best choice, we offer screenings at all of our locations, with 3D mammography performed at our Women’s & Advanced Imaging Center in Metairie.