Yesterdays news has become today's health headache for American women. The new guidelines indicate that women under the age of 50 need not receive yearly mammograms, self examinations are useless and women age 50-74 need mammograms only every two years.
Now that the US Preventive Service Task Force announced that women ages 40-50 essentially need not concern themselves with the risks of breast cancer, the implications may be significant for long term health, cost management and malpractice. It is of course too early to tell whether the Task Force's recommendations will result in mortality increases for our women. My bet is that they will. I also predict that insurance companies will no longer pay for mammograms that are outside the parameters recommended. Women under age 50 can expect to pay for their own studies if they can find physicians who will order them.
Finally, those women whose physicians abide by these guides and miss breast cancers in their patients leading to more significant treatments, surgeries and morbidity or mortality can point to these guides in support of their argument that there was nothing that could or should have been done to diagnose the problems.
The insurance industry will benefit in dollars and cents- the guidelines will reduce costs for insurers in amounts that are almost incomprehensible and protect physicians from being sued for malpractice. Be sure to check to see whether your insurance premium rates decrease commensurate with this insurance savings.
Women--remain ever vigilant and fight for your lives.