Ultrasounds and Breast Cancer

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According to a Reuters report, U.S. researchers revealed yesterday that targeted ultrasounds found 100 percent of cancers in women under forty who found lumps or other suspicious areas of the breast, offering a cheaper, less-invasive alternative to surgery or biopsies.

"Given concerns expressed about the USPSTF's new recommendations against screening mammograms for women under fifty, this could be a great discovery," says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.

"These ultrasounds were given to women who already identified suspicious lumps in their breast," says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. "Nowhere in the USPSTF's report does it say that anyone who finds a lump shouldn't have a mammogram. Nor does it say women shouldn't get mammograms if they are under fifty. All it says is that we shouldn't automatically screen every woman over forty. There is a very big difference between screening and investigating a lump."

Eleven health-related organizations recently wrote a letter to Representatives Henry Waxman and Joe Barton pointing out some of the more egregious misstatements that have been made about the USPSTF panel's report, including those pointed out above by Dr. Ross and the allegation that the new recommendations were based partly on financial considerations.

"Cost at no time played a role in the recommendations," explains Dr. Ross. "There is no mention of dollars or financial cost-benefit analysis in the report. In fact, the panel was forbidden from considering cost in arriving at their recommendations."

"Many people were angry at the wrong thing," says ACSH's Jeff Stier. "That is, they were angry not about what was said, but how they misinterpreted it. Those eleven groups spoke out against the misinterpretations of the panel recommendations despite many incentives not to. By the same token, a few ACSH donors have written to us saying they'll stop supporting our work because of our kind words about the USPSTF's study. But it is our mission to defend dispassionate science, no matter how politically incorrect it is."