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Posted: November 29, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Our Thoughts... Screening guideline shock

Recently the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force released new guidelines regarding the needed frequency of mammographies. The guidelines floored this editorial board.

October, breast cancer awareness month, just ended. In that month The News ran stories of brave women who have overcome breast cancer, but many women are unable to tell their stories because they lost their fight with cancer.

The USPSTF put out new guidelines saying that self-breast exams are enough for early detection. They advised that women between the ages of 40 and 49 receive mammograms only every other year and that women over the age of 74 should not receive any more screenings. This is absurd. Women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer after a mammogram would tell you that they were glad they were screened annually.

What about younger women? What about women with family histories of breast cancer?

These newly released guidelines are akin to waking up one morning and someone telling you to only worry about oil changes every 6,000 miles. However, the implications of undetected breast cancer are far worst than that of a sludgy engine.

New pap smear guidelines for younger women also concern us. Womensheath.gov estimates that 20 million women from age 15 to 49 have HPV, which is known to cause cervical cancer. It seems that any sexually active woman should have a yearly pap test to detect the presence of HPV and other life-threatening diseases.

Perhaps the Obama administration pushed for these new guidelines to ease the burden on government-run health care. We say, listen to what your doctor recommends rather than some obscure bureaucratic council that doesn’t even include any imaging specialists or oncologists.

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