Breast Cancer Doctor says Stick with Traditional Mammography Guidelines

Reaction has generally been negative to a government task force recommendation that mammograms are not needed for women under 50. Rod Rice reports that the Director of The Methodist Hospital's Breast Cancer Center is among those reacting strongly to the new guidelines.

"I'm very surprised and disheartened by it."

Dr. Luz Venta says the new guideline that women don't need mammograms until 50 and then only every other year is not based on any new science. She says it's the same data but with a cost benefit analysis added.

"To make a qualification of, we know that it saves lives in the 40 to 50 year-old group, which is what they said.  We just think we don't save enough lives, it's really very upsetting. It's patronizing and it's chauvinistic."

Dr. Venta says it's appalling because it appears the task force is saying that it's not worth the cost to save the lives of women under 50.

She and the American Cancer Society will continue to advise women to get an annual mammogram once they turn 40.

The task force also said that breast self examinations are useless and shouldn't be taught.  Dr. Venta says that's overstating the issue.

"The best person to find the breast cancer is the women when it's palpable, but the mammogram finds it so much earlier before it becomes palpable that we don't really want to make women feel that because their physical exam is normal they don't need to get mammograms."

She says the 30% decrease in breast cancer mortality in this country is due to early detection of lumps that can not be felt.


Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...