Gov't panel: Start mammograms at 50

(AP) - Most women don't need a mammogram in their 40sand should get one every two years starting at 50, a governmenttask force said Monday. It's a major reversal that conflicts withthe American Cancer Society's long-standing position.

Also, the task force said breast self-exams do no good and womenshouldn't be taught to do them.

For most of the past two decades, the cancer society has beenrecommending annual mammograms beginning at 40.

But the government panel of doctors and scientists concludedthat getting screened for breast cancer so early and so often leadsto too many false alarms and unneeded biopsies withoutsubstantially improving women's odds of survival.

"The benefits are less and the harms are greater when screeningstarts in the 40s," said Dr. Diana Petitti, vice chair of thepanel.

The new guidelines were issued by the U.S. Preventive ServicesTask Force, whose stance influences coverage of screening tests byMedicare and many insurance companies.

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