Gov't Tells Women Wait 10 Years for Breast Screening

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Nearly 2.5 million women in America have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

But now, a government panel is telling women they can wait an extra 10 years before they start getting regular tests for the disease. And the panel says women don't need to be tested as often.

These new guidelines are creating enormous controversy.

For decades, the common practice to promote breast cancer awareness was for women to start getting mammograms at age 40 and to get screened every year.

Click play for the report followed by insight from CBN News Medical Reporter Gailon Totheroh.

But a government task force now recommends women should wait until they're 50-years-old and get fewer mammograms, a procedure that has caught cancers early and saved lives.
"Screening every two years captures most of the benefit in terms of reducing breast cancer mortality, while decreasing the harms," said Dr. Diana Petitti with the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.

The panel's conclusion contradicts the current recommendation that women start routine screening at age 40. Instead, it says women should wait until they turn 50 -- and rather than getting screened every year, they should get screened ever other year.

The panel went further, saying self exams do no good -- and women shouldn't be taught how to do them.

The reason? The doctors and scientists that were a part of the study concluded that early and frequent screenings often lead to false alarms and more tests that wind up driving up anxiety and health care costs unnecessarily.

For some women, that's a price worth paying.

"This cancer thing, it's a crazy sickness and we never know when it's going to pop up," one woman said.

The American Cancer Society disputes the new guidelines -- for now -- and stands by its advice for women 40 and over to get screened.

"We're going to lose women from breast cancer. They will die as a result of what the task force is saying," American Cancer Society's deputy chief medical officer Len Lichtenfeld said.

The panel says the new recommendations are for women in general and not for women who are high risk because of family history.

Critics say the panel's guidelines could wind up hurting women even more, if insurance companies adopt the recommendations and stop paying for younger women to get screened.

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John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Anchor

John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at