Women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year, an influential federal task force has concluded, challenging the use of one of the most common medical tests.Now, now, Dr. Kopans. You're probably just a shill for the radiology special interest group. You've been ripping off the people for too long. It's about time we stop the rampant over-prescription of mammograms!
"Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and these idiots want to do away with it," said Daniel B. Kopans, a radiology professor at Harvard Medical School. "It's crazy -- unethical, really."
And on a totally unrelated note, it would be a great cost control!
But it's not about rationing! It's about saving women from temporary anxiety over false positives. And if other women have to die of breast cancer to prevent that anxiety, well, that's a small price to pay.
Some questioned whether the new guidelines were designed more to control spending than to improve health. In addition to prompting fewer doctors to recommend mammograms to their patients, they worried that the move would prompt insurers to deny coverage for many mammograms.
The new recommendations took on added significance because under health-care reform legislation pending in Congress, the conclusions of the 16-member task force would set standards for what preventive services insurance plans would be required to cover at little or no cost.
Mammograms produce false-positive results in about 10 percent of cases, causing anxiety and often prompting women to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests, sometimes-disfiguring biopsies and unneeded treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.On the bright side, the more women who die in their 40's and 50's, the less underfunded Social Security and Medicare will be. Skeptical CPA saw all this coming back in September: Whither Disparate Impact (or, "Kill the old ladies").
Change we can believe in!