While the USPSTF stated that cost considerations had nothing to do with the new breast cancer recommendations announcement, ACOG did mention costs in its announcement regarding changes to cervical cancer screening.
"In this country, health care is an enormous issue and it is the single greatest driver of the national debt," Brooks said. "There's nothing wrong with raising financial questions in a public health setting."
"It's my belief that the task force just set the date [for its announcement] and wasn't really paying attention to the politics. In truth, I don't know but . . . part of the way of controlling costs is the rational use of medical care, not the rationing of care," Brawley said. "For most women in the U.S., to get a Pap smear on an annual basis means that we're going to spend three times more on cervical cancer screening than we need to spend and we've actually gotten evidence that screening tests every five years is going to save as many women as every three years [but] we've gone every three years to be safer."
According to Brawley, ACOG's new cervical cancer guidelines "look amazingly" like the 2002 American Cancer Society guidelines.
The ACS does not agree with the new USPSTF guidelines for breast cancer screening, however.
"Our view is that breast cancer screening saves lives and women aged 40 and above should get a high quality mammogram and clinical breast exam on an annual basis," Brawley said.
Ochsner Health System's Brooks is not changing his advice to women. "I tell women at age 40, if she wants to begin screening with mammography, it's fine," he said. "I haven't changed what I'm recommending in my practice but I try to explain to women what the rationale behind it is."
To see the new breast cancer screening recommendations, visit the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
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