Monday, October 26, 2015

ACS Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Unlikely To Impact Coverage Of Screening For Breast Cancer, Experts Say

Kaiser Health News (10/24, Andrews) reported that “the American Cancer Society’s new breast cancer screening guidelines, recommend[ing] that women start screening later and get fewer mammograms...is unlikely to affect insurance coverage anytime soon.” These “guidelines on their own likely won’t change insurer and employer decisions regarding coverage of screening for breast cancer, experts agree.”

Meanwhile, Modern Healthcare (10/25, Johnson, Subscription Publication) reported, “some experts say recommending that women delay regular screening until ages 45 or 50 is a disservice to patients and makes it more difficult for younger women to get screened.”

USA Today (10/26) editorial criticizes the new American Cancer Society (ACS) mammogram guidelines. USA Today writes that the panel responsible for the guidelines “opted for recommendations that invite devastating consequences for some women.”

In an “Opposing View” in USA Today (10/26), Ruth Etzioni, a biostatistician, and Kevin Oeffinger, a physician, both members of the ACS panel that wrote the guidelines, write, “The recommendation that by age 45 women should undergo regular screening is designed to limit the numbers adversely impacted while benefitting as many as possible.” They write that although “we believe its harms, particularly overdiagnosis, are often exaggerated, we acknowledge that mammography is not a simple test.” Etzioni and Oeffinger argue, “If we want to save screening, we have to acknowledge its potential downside.”

The New York Times (10/26, Subscription Publication) also editorializes on the new guidelines, saying they present “another wrinkle for women who are trying to make informed decisions about their health care.” The Times argues that “when there is still such a dizzying array of expert opinion, it would be wiser to require insurers to continue covering all women starting at 40.”

In the Washington Post (10/24, Lerner), Barron H. Lerner, a professor in the division of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, wrote that “the ACS is to be applauded,” as “its new guidelines are based on the actual scientific value of early detection, not the organization’s needs and prior beliefs.” 

Categories: 2015, October, News, Policy and Economics, Screening and MammographyNumber of views: 10027