KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Poll: Women In Their 40′s Will Still Get Mammograms, Despite New Guidelines

USA Today reports that "[a] vast majority of American women plan to ignore controversial new recommendations about mammograms, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows. The poll also shows that most women sharply overestimate their risk of developing the disease."

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is an independent panel of government-appointed experts, last week issued recommendations suggesting that "most women don't need routine mammograms until age 50" -- a significant change from the previous recommendations, which set that mark at age 40. "Women across the USA have reacted angrily ... and expressed concern that delaying the tests could endanger their lives. In the new survey of 1,136 women, 76% of women say they disagree or strongly disagree with the recommendations. And 84% of women ages 35 to 49 say they plan to get mammograms before age 50 despite the independent panel's advice. ... Forty percent of women estimate that a 40-year-old's chance of developing breast cancer over the next decade is 20% to 50%. The real risk is 1.4%, according to the National Cancer Institute."

In addition, "[s]eventy-six percent of women said they believe that the panel based its conclusions on cost, even though the task force's report included only scientific studies" (Szabo, 11/24).

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