November 17th, 2009
06:56 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Mammogram Confusion

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/11/16/mammography.recommendation.changes/story.mammogram.gi.jpg caption="The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's new mammography recommendations have raised controversy." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

There's confusion and outrage over the new recommendations from a government task force regarding mammograms.

The United States Preventive Service Task Force announced Monday that most women don't need mammograms in their 40s and instead should wait until they are 50 to get one every two years. They also suggest that self-breast exams do no good and women should not be taught how to do them.

This is a major reversal and it's being challenged by the American Cancer Society and others.

"We're going to encourage women to continue to have mammography every year and we hope they will continue to have it into their 70s," said Dr. Peter Pressman, a surgeon and co-author of "Breast Cancer: The Complete Guide", who works with the American Cancer Society.

What do you think of the controversy? Share your thoughts below.

Tonight on 360°, we'll talk with a member of the government task force and ask her why they came up with the new recommendation.

We are also following new developments in the Fort Hood massacre investigation. According to media reports, just two days before the shooting spree suspected gunman Major Nidal Hasan went to a firing range and fired 200 rounds of ammo at ten targets. There are also reports that Hasan made repeated requests to have soldiers he counseled investigated for war crimes charges.

And tonight we begin our four-part series "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes." This AC360 investigation reveals what happened after three decorated army sergeants executed four Iraqi detainees at a Baghdad canal. The three sergeants were convicted of premeditated murder. CNN obtained 23 and half hours of army interrogation videotapes that detail the crime, including tapes cnn requested but the army would not release.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10pm E.T. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. donna

    Diagnosed @36 w/2nd most rare form of bc. No family history. My daughter was treated @16 for pre-cancerous tissue. My male neighbor was diagnosed @27 with bc.

    No cancer waits for a certain age to attack the cells of your body.

    It's not the anxiety of waiting for the biopsy report. It's an anxiety that diminishes with each year that you live beyond diagnosis and treatment. It's a positive attitude (a learning vs fixed mind-set) and a will to live.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  2. Gloria

    As a 2-time survivor of breast cancer, I feel that I am alive as a result of having yearly mammograms. The two very aggressive tumors were caught in their early stages. Imagine if I had mammograms every 2 years instead of every year!!?? I am stunned by the recommendations but I also know that women will revolt– and I will be at the head of the pack– if either private insurances or a government option won't pay for "yearly" mammograms for every woman over 40 and thereafter into the 70s. And, by the way, I had no family history or other significant risk factors. This idea is "rationing" at its worse!!!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  3. Diane

    I'm a 43 year old mother of two boys. A year and a half ago I lost my sister to Breast Cancer. She had just turned 43. She left behind a daughter 11 and a son 13. She noticed a lump in her breast in late January 2006 she died on March 28, 2008. Within 1 1/2 years the life of our family and her two children was changed forever. For any women thinking they don't need to have a regular mammogram after and even before the age of forty think again. There was absolutely no history of BREAST CANCER in our family. For any woman out there that doesn't think she could be the one affected by breast cancer...think again. Loosing a mother or a daughter or a sister to breast cancer is terrible. My sisters children will not have their mother for their graduation, wedding day or even the birth of their first child. MAMMOGRAMS AND SELF BREAST EXAMS ARE NEEDED AND NOT JUST FOR WOMEN OVER THE AGE OF 50.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  4. Shay

    Does this task force scream, "Reduce healthcare costs?" So when we get the public option of health care we won't be able to get a mammo until 40% have already died. The professional Dr. explained that a 40% decrease in mortality rates since the lowering to age 40. The dummy doctor with dress-up glasses couldn't stand toe-to-toe. I question the purpose of the task force and the persons behind it. Did you see that one recommendation was not to teach self breast exams? Come on!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  5. Claudia Jacobs

    The previous guidelines SAVE lives! I agree with the gentleman completely! 20 years ago I was 44 years old-I was NOT at risk for breast cancer and was very healthy! I went for my annual exam and they suggested I get a "baseline" mamogram! Thank God I did-it detected a tiny cancerous group of cells so tiny, it would have taken several years to be a detectable LUMP! They took the neccesary steps and STOPPED it-eliminated it! Because of VERY EARLY DETECTION I never suffered heartbreak, or mastectomy or loss of life! I have lived a totally healthy life all the years since! How awful that they are NOW suggesting to a new generation of vulnerable women that they can just wait til later! IF I had waited til age 50-–by then it probably would have been far too late! Listen to the gentleman who has been an expert in this field for years! HE's absolutley on solid ground for PREVENTING unneccesary DEATHS!!! The young group of researchers are immature and are being careless in advising this new guideline!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  6. Jennifer

    People never fail to amaze me, this entire mess is just a ploy for the pharmaceutical industry to make more money. The longer you wait to be screened, the chance of breast cancer to develope(meaning the stages) and spread heightens creating a sicker patient. The sicker you are the more money they will make off of you. Only a fool will wait until they are 50 to be screened when there are women in their 20's getting diagnosed now, are you kidding me? This is ludicrous! In fact breast cancer screening should start earlier than 40 really. And looking at this from a political perspective could this be tied in with the health care reform that is going on now? Food for thought.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  7. Sandra Miceli - Canada

    I am a three year breast cancer survivor with NO FAMILY HISTORY OF ANY CANCER. I was diagnosed at age 48!!!!! Through this journey, I have met so many women, mostly in their fourties, also with no family history of breast cancer. I meet these women through the clinic where I received treatment and follow-up doctor visits, I meet them through the many breast cancer support groups and also on the internet where I have met so many American women, ALL OF US IN OUR FOURTIES!!!!!!!
    Let me tell the good doctor who is speaking on our behalf.... we are lucky that a mammogram has caught our cancer early enough to still be here to talk about it and some have also died in the last year, when I got to know them because their cancer was not caught early and they were in their fourties. Please, please, do no use us as statstics, we are here, dying of this disease and we need the mammograms in our early forties and not a day later. Breast cancer must be caught early for us to have a chance for survival and the earlier it is caught, the more chance we have to beat it. We are loosing way too many young women with small children to this disease.
    Wake up people, I can't believe this is even being discussed, never mind implemented, and by supposedly well educated doctors. I am asking this doctor to resign and have a more informed doctor replace her. I am rageing right now for the women who will be diagnosed too late and for the ones that have already lost their lives way too earyl. Let me know if you need a list of women I KNOW who have lost their lives in their fourties with no family history.
    If this is implemented, doctors will only tell us thy are following the government guidelines and will not send women for mammograms!!
    Plase, please, do not play with our lives!!!!!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  8. Freda Poore

    As a retired nurse and a breast cancer survivor....I can not imagine anyone suggesting waiting until age 50 to get one!!! If I had waited..I would be dead. A routine mammogram picked up what my physician failed to find. Breast cancer resulted in having both breasts removed and chemo.....but I'm alive today because of that mammogram. I will continue to recommend to all my neices,friends and daughters to continue to get theirs every year after forty..esp. forty-five....I was forty-six. I cannot imagine the thinking behind all this. We just took a step backwards about thirty years. Freda Poore...Fayetteville,Arkansas

    November 17, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  9. Mary Garcia

    I watched the show on breast cancer tonight and was very disappointed with the findings. My background is Quality Assurance in the laboratory for the government. I would like to know if QA was a requirement during the " government findings." The representative for the "government findings" was not very knowledgeable. I highly recommend screening for women in their 40's. My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer so during my 40's I had an annual mammogram. The findings need to be challenged and Dr. Peter Pressman is a more reliable source for information. As for the women of America, an annual mammogram is very important!!!!!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  10. RJ Simpson

    56, breast cancer this year, caught so early that you couldn't feel the lump because of mammogram screening. I'm so upset about this new US Task force guildlines.

    My question is this. Why do they recommend women to have annual pap smear for cervical cancer every year at age 18 and not a breast mammogram? The American Cancer projected figures for new US cases in 2009 for cervical cancer is only 11,00.00 and breast cancer projected figures are over 192,000.

    It is a fact that mammograms save lives, and I'm glad that I had insurance to pay for mine and I have that to thank for my life. This is an outrage, 1 in 8 women in her life time will have breast cancer.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  11. Aby

    I am outraged by the panel's recommendation that women stop their self breast exam!!!! WHY?, Are they trying to murder women or what? Everyone's talking about the change in mammogram recommendations, what about self breast exam??? Simple inexpensive, non invasive method of screening, why would anyone advise against it, OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  12. Linda larson

    If a Mammogram can save 1 life or 1,000 it is worth it.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  13. Valerie

    We should all recognize this as one more attempt by the government to control our lives. By what right do they have to make such a broad and damaging statement??? BY WHAT RIGHT? Especially with a mammography expert omitted from the panel and the main side effect sited was anxiety? We should all also recognize the obvious fallout... the insurance companies won't pay for mammograms for women in their 40's. Could this be a part of the bigger plan to "revamp" U.S. health care? Disgusting.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  14. shannon

    I am a 38 year old breast cancer survivor. My diagnoses came 2 years ago at age 36 after I discovered the lump through self examination! Waiting until age 50 would have been too late! Its very upsetting to think someone would suggest such a lethal recommendation, even if it is summed up with "consult your doctor on your individual case." I wouldn't want this recommended to my daughters. What is the government task force out to gain by making this insane recommmendation?

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  15. Henry

    Everyone has missed the point here. This is a passive "taste" of health care rationing. The government is starting with the "dangers" of too much of some medical procedure. It will progress to being an issue of cost and therefore will be excluded from coverage. Just give it some time. It's coming.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  16. DeLia CA

    I used to work in an outpatient radiology clinic where we did an average of 100 mammograms a day, ALL year long; more in October. Mammograms was the one exam a patient could schedule without a doctor's order; although follow up with an MD was necessary to get the results. It was recommended that women get a baseline mammogram even if she had no symptoms (lumps, etc) at 40 in order to compare future exams. If there was a family history of breast cancer or symptoms, the exam was done at a younger age.

    As for false positives, you don't simply go from mammogram to mastectomy. There are interim procedures that are done to verify the results and the necessity of more invasive tactics. The woman on Wolf's show this afternoon seemed to discourage even self breast exam, saying that most lumps are found by accident!! Even if the self exam is done "incorrectly" as she seemed to imply, being aware of one's body and possible changes is important.

    I really hope the insurance companies don't start denying the annual screening mammogram. Prevention is certainly less expensive and less traumatic than the treatment.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  17. N. Claus


    Bear with me, I have two stories.

    1. I am 48, I found my first lump at age 43 through self exam. I have a masters degree in Chemical Engineering and had been giving myself the self exam since I was 13. I became a deer in head lights the moment I found my lump in the shower. I got out of the shower, water still on and froze on my bed not knowing what to do. I had a 13, 10 and 7 year old at the time. I went to the doctor and, to this day, do not remember a word he said because I was that stunned.

    The next day, I got my mammogram they found lumpS (plural). The next day the doctor removed the lumps and I began treatment. I am alive today because of a) self exam and b) mammogram.

    The women pushing their study are being dishonest, disingenuous and irresponsible.

    2. My friend perished from breast cancer when she was 55. She had 2 children and a lovely husband. She had not taken advantage of mammogram during her 40's. As a result when she was 51 she had her first mammogram. It was too late. For the next 4 years she suffered and died a horrible, slow, painful death.

    Again, I say, the women pushing their study are being dishonest, disingenuous and irresponsible.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  18. Melissa

    I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer this June and am currently in treatment. I found it was because i turned 40 and my fiance recommended i get a mammogram through the program Every Women Counts!!! I am sooooo thankful that i caught it early – NOW I can have a chance at having my own family!!! I am in a group for young survivorsrs and because of early screening many women are alive and able to have a future. Your guest doesn't realize the impact her actions will have. I am outraged at the lives that this will cost.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  19. Velinda

    I'm 43, found my first breast lump at 33yr and continue to have many lumps which so far have all been non-cancer or have been able to be drained. i go every 6 months and last month after many were able to drained more, i was just thinking maybe the routine screening should start the age of 30. I'm the lucky one so far. For all the people I know or stories I heard i can't make heads or tails of any case. Some family history some not, some in there 30's with no history.

    I can't believe this could even be a thought. There once again pay for the insurance for years thinking you have the sercurity and oops no we don't. It make me angry and sad for women.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  20. Ben

    This is irresponsible advice, and the smug look on Dr. Gregory's face as she rolled her eyes when the other doctor cited 40% reduction in death was inexusable. She just rolled her eyes at my mother's survival from breast cancer at 47.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  21. Mike

    The unique findings of the committee’s findings begs the question, “Who paid for this study?” Was it the insurance companies? And if so are routine colonoscopies the next routine screening to be targeted for restriction. Looks like we may already have a death panel at the insurance companies

    November 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  22. Adrien

    Hi, how is it that people who are not qualify to make decisions make laws, make restrictions, and make us the public suffer.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  23. Linda larson

    At 41 years old a mammogram saved my life. I am now 45 and if I was told I could not have a mammogram until age 50, I may not be alive. Twenty percent of women who have an abnormal mammogram will be positive for cancer. Tell those women the new guidlines are what we should follow. Let's get real!!! If a ma

    November 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  24. Miki

    My mother has gotten routinely mammograms for a while and they found an early breast cancer she wouldn't have known that if she waited till she was 50! She would have had to go through kemo if she hadn't have gotten her routine of mammograms.

    A ticked off daughter

    November 17, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  25. Lisa, Louisville, KY

    I would much rather have a false positive and suffer a few days of anxiety than die from a disease that could have been cured if it had been detected earlier. I think these "guidlines" are completely irresponsible.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  26. Tim

    Welcome to the beginning of government healthcare. A "taskforce" knows much better whats better for you than you and your doctor.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  27. Faye

    If I had waited until I was 50 for a mammogram, I would not have reached the age of 50. I think this task force has been influenced somehow to change the "rules", and have not done their homework with the facts and figures. It is too bad because there are women still who are afraid to get a mammogram in the first place. Now they may wait too long!

    November 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  28. LaNeisa Jackson

    This whole "debate" smells like money. Cancer is big business in this country and ten years of lost revenue has the noise level being amplified beyond the average woman.

    Why not do the test at 20?

    November 17, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  29. Donna

    I am a 54YO woman who has been cancer free for 10 years. I was diagnosed with Carcinoma In Situ of the Breast at age 47. I had previously had a mammogram 6 months prior and the radiologist happened to question the calcifications in my breast. If I didn't have that mammogram I would not be here today. I had a very aggressive cancer. I believe every woman should get their mammogram every year.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  30. Annie Kate

    I worked with a woman whose mother and sister both died of breast cancer – her mother in her 50s and her sister when she was in her early twenties – not yet 25. My co-worker got a mammogram every year but she found the lump by self-examination 2 weeks after her annual mammogram. Guess there is no guarantee with or without the test. But, for those who have the gene for breast cancer in their family I sure wouldn't want them to lose the opportunity to have mammographies in their twenties and have it paid for by insurance.

    November 17, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  31. Kelly

    I responded earlier.

    I was diagnosed 2 weeks before my 28th birthday. I will be 44 tomorrow. I am a 16 year survivor. Does my diagnoses, treatment and life matter? My mother also is a 10 year survivor. Does her life matter? My maternal grandmother died at age 46 because mammograms were not routine during her time. Again, I ask if 100 women stand before me and I can save 15 of those women who wouldn't know they had a disease, would I not do so?

    Damn right I would give them a routine mammogram. We need to put women's names up instead of these ridiculous statistics. Then perhaps it will be real. I'm real. My diagnoses was real and I'll tell ya, my life is real. Real beautiful because I'm still alive and early diagnoses saved my life.

    Kelly Veino
    Vancouver, Canada

    November 17, 2009 at 9:46 pm |
  32. Samantha

    I've known many people under the age of 40 who have had breast cancer. Its difficult to understand why we would be changing the rules now. With all the knowledge and advances in cancer research, why are we suddenly regressing and taking chances with peoples lives?

    November 17, 2009 at 9:33 pm |
  33. Cindy

    I've read research articles which discussed how there are both many false positives as well as negatives when interpreting the tests, which was due to both the quality of the images and the reliability (and experience) of the doctors' interpretation as well as skill of the tech/personnel performing the test. There was also discussion on how having a mammogram can cause the spread of a not yet detectable cancer cell because of the amount of pressure applied to the tissue. Maybe there's a lot of controversy out there on these points.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:25 pm |
  34. Ashleigh

    I think its total BS my mom had breast cancer in her late 20's into early 30's..and that was already 10 off of the recommended yrs,now they want to push it back and say oh wait until your 50's..I don't think so.. If my mom was to wait until her 50's she would NOT still be here as gos for many many other Women!

    November 17, 2009 at 9:18 pm |
  35. Monica - Universal City, TX

    I have a cousin who got breast cancer in her 30's and a sister who got it in her 40's, as well as a niece by marriage who got it in her 30's (and died as a result in 2008). Thank God my sister and my cousin didn't wait to get their first mammogram...neither would have lived to see 50. As for this government task force that decided women should wait so long, are they men or old women?? As for me and mine, I will encourage my two daughters, aged 24 and 25, to get their first mammogram at 40; hopefully these ignoramuses won't give insurance companies a reason to cut yet another very vital benefit.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  36. Michelle

    I have read cases of women in their 20's and 30's
    developing breast cancer. Why is there always confusion
    about the age they should begin?

    November 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm |