U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today expressed serious concerns regarding a federal panel's decision to no longer recommend routine mammography screening for women between the ages of 40 and 49 and to reduce the recommended frequency of mammograms for women 50 to 74 years of age to two years rather than annually.
"This recommendation is contrary to everything we hear and know about the importance of preventative care and routine screenings. I am seriously concerned this could potentially reduce the number of individuals getting necessary mammograms and other life-saving preventative care," said LoBiondo. "My biggest fear is that recommendations like these, while intended to provide guidance and facilitate a discussion between individuals and their doctors, will instead be used to ration care."
Established in 1984, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published the new guidelines today. The guidelines were immediately denounced by respected groups such as the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
This announcement comes on the heels of House-passage of Speaker Pelosi's healthcare bill (H.R. 3962), which LoBiondo opposed on November 7, 2009. While the guidelines announced today are unlikely to have immediate effects on access to mammograms, it is unclear how they or future recommendations could be implemented should a bill similar to H.R. 3962 be enacted into law. Under H.R. 3962, the President would appoint an unelected, unaccountable health czar,' who would have the authority to specify what benefits could be received at what age and with what frequency.
Locally, Marge Scanny, Manager of Cancer Community Outreach at Shore Memorial Hospital's Cancer Center, was equally angered by the panel's conclusion.
"According to the USPSTF, screening 1,300 women in their 50's to save one life is worth it, but screening 1,900 women in their 40's to save a life is not. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago when I was 41. My youngest son was 10 years old. Was I worth it? Was my son worth it?" said Marge Scanny, who is also a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "I recommend that women follow the American Cancer Society guidelines which recommend an annual mammogram every year after the age of 40. I thank God every day that I followed the advice of the ACS."