John McCaa Uncut: Breast health care confusion

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by JOHN MCCAA / WFAA-TV

Bio | Email | Follow: @johnmccaa

wfaa.com

Posted on November 20, 2009 at 9:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 14 at 2:14 PM

There is lots of surprise in the medical world, and it's the focus of my Uncut commentary this week.

Those new government task force recommendations on breast cancer still have people upset.

We used to be told that women should start getting routine mammograms at age 40, and that self-examination was essential in early detection.

This week it all changed.

For most women, they say 50 is now the best time to start routine mammograms, and that self-examination is next to useless.

Mountains of medical evidence, the task force said, reveal the old way of doing things leads to too many false positives, and thus needless painful biopsies and unnecessary tests.

That may be true, but the American Cancer Society looked at the same data and disagreed.

So many people are upset about the task force proposals that the government has now backed off its recommendation, saying do what you've always done.

Some opponents link it to the current health care reform debate, calling it health "rationing" designed more to cut costs than save lives.

The fact is, people just don't trust the government (or government studies).

The numbers may show the old way isn't worth the trouble, but for many future patients — and a lot of their doctors — these are the numbers that matter most:

  • 192,000 new cases of breast cancer every year
  • 40,000 breast cancer deaths

Those are not numbers; they’re people.

In medicine, trust is everything. It took us 20 years to get here in terms of developing public trust of the old plan.

Please, give us a little time before asking us to switch to something new.

Those are my thoughts. Tell me yours by leaving a comment below or by sending me an e-mail.

E-mail jmcaa@wfaa.com

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