For women who are under 40 who don’t exhibit risk factors for breast cancer, mammograms aren’t very effective at accurately diagnosing breast cancer. So it should be a no brainer to move the starting age for screening up to 40 from women who don’t exhibit risk factors for breast cancer, right? No. Apparently not.
For example, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, in November 2009, said women younger than 50 do not need routine mammography screening. Four days later, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that Pap smears for cervical cancer screening start at age 21 and continue every two years through age 29.
The new recommendations came in 2009 amidst the health care debate and were rebuked firmly by Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius. Seems like politics leading policy now.
An unfortunate turn of politics as the reduction in unnecessary testing needs to be implemented to make health care more affordable. Sebelius’ stance has made that just about impossible for right sizing cancer screening coverage by demonizing the work of government funded public health scientists. Definitely not change you can believe in.