In a letter to both the chairman and ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, nearly a dozen U.S. health and prevention organizations defended the U.S. Preventive Task Force's recent recommendations on breast cancer screenings.
Groups back panel's stance on mammograms
The groups—which include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Public Health Association, and the Trust for America's Health—said there have been numerous misstatements in the media about the recommendations, including one about the task force recommending that women between the ages of 40 and 49 not receive mammograms.
“Women in their forties with no identifiable risk factors are much less likely to have breast cancer than those aged 50 and above with no risk factors,” the groups said in their letter. “Moreover, mammograms in this age group have a much higher likelihood of generating false positives than in older women,” the letter continued, adding that for this reason, the task force does not recommend that all women in the 40-49 age range start receiving mammograms automatically.
The letter also highlighted that members of the task force are appointed by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and that current members have been appointed—during both Democratic and Republican administrations—for their expertise in prevention, primary care and evidence-based medicine. “The Task Force has no direct role, and has not sought a role, in setting policy such as insurance coverage,” the organizations said. “The timing of the current recommendation in relations to healthcare reform is entirely coincidental.”
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