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Mammogram Hearing Set for Wednesday « The Washington Independent

The House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee has scheduled a hearing Wednesday to examine contentious new guidelines recommending that women get breast cancer screenings less frequently and later in life.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force caused a storm this month when it suggested that routine mammograms begin at age 50 — rather than 40 — and occur every two years, rather than annually. Some members of Congress pounced on the findings, arguing that, if adopted, they would undermine the ability of doctors to detect some cancers and save some lives.

“Breast cancer is a preventable and treatable disease if it is detected early but we don’t want to cause other health problems in the process,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the subcommittee, said in a statement. “Providers and patients need to understand the risks of both screening and not screening so that they can make a balanced decision. … This hearing will increase everyone’s understanding of the issue.”

Testifying before the panel will be:

  • Ned Calonge, chairman of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  • Diana B. Petitti, vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  • Otis Webb Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society
  • Jennifer Luray, president of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocacy Alliance
  • Fran Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition
  • Donna Sweet, member of the American College of Physicians’ Clinical Assessment Efficacy Subcommittee

The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate health committee, is also promising to examine the new recommendations. With the Senate poised to spend most of December debating health reform legislation, however, Harkin might have to wait until 2010.

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