Loud Calls for a Senate Hearing on New Mammogram Guidelines

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm

A bipartisan group of 22 senators representing are calling on the leaders of the chamber’s health committee to examine the new breast cancer screening guidelines that have ignited a recent firestorm on and off Capitol Hill.

“These recommendations, which have been widely criticized by patients and doctors alike, could prove devastating for women at risk of breast cancer,” the lawmakers wrote to Sens. Tom Harkin (D- Iowa) and Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), the leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Breast cancer screenings and advances in technology have reduced the mortality rate of patients who develop this devastating disease, but early detection of breast cancer is absolutely critical. To alter these recommendations, and to contradict the advice provided by countless doctors, will only serve to cause confusion and alter the behavior of patients, may (sic) of whom may be at a high risk of contracting breast cancer.

Spearheaded by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Nov. 20 letter was also signed by GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), David Vitter (La.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Jim Risch (Idaho), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), John Ensign (Nev.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Pat Roberts (Ks.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.); the Democratic co-signers were Sens. Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Ben Cardin (Md.),  Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Arlen Specter (Pa.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.).

No word yet about Harkin’s plans, but Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce health subpanel, has already said that he’ll hold a hearing on the topic early next month.

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