Task Force Responds to Mammogram Controversy

"The United States Preventative Service Task Force have done what they've been asked to do, which is routinely review data and look at preventive services across the board and make recommendations," Sebelius said. "They don't make policy. Do what you have always done. Figure out your own health situation with your doctor, your family history. Those are really the important ingredients."

Experts, Officials Weigh In on New Recommendations

Wednesday, Good Morning America consulted its medical team -- ABC News chief medical editor Dr. Timothy Johnson, ABC News senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser and ABC News medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard -- to find out their opinions of the new recommendations.

What all three doctors said was that the updated recommendations, while they may be well-intentioned, raise significant concerns and that women, at least for the time being, should adhere to previous guidelines.

"I was so surprised about these recommendations," Savard said. "I think women should stay put in terms of what they're doing."

Johnson said that a question that naturally accompanies such a change concerns alternatives to mammography, of which, he said, there are currently no good ones.

"Right now, a screening mammogram is the best tool we have," he said. "That's why we recommend it."

And Besser said that in terms of lives saved -- 1 in 1,300 for women 50 and over, one in 1,900 for women 40-49 -- he does not believe there is enough difference in benefit between these groups to warrant a difference in recommendations.

Meanwhile, the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology are among the many groups that supported the old guidelines and have stood firmly by them since the Preventive Serivces Task Force released its new recommendations.

"When you see two prestigious bodies, this task force and the American Cancer Society, looking at the same information and coming up with wholesale different conclusions, that raises red flags for me in saying, 'OK, smart people can disagree; let's not do anything rash before these are looked at in great detail,'" Besser said.

It's not just professional organizations that are bucking the new guidelines. Since they were issued Monday, the changes in recommendations have met a groundswell of rejection from many medical centers, breast cancer survivors and numerous doctors, some of whom have advised their patients to ignore the recommendation.

According to most of the medical centers that ABC News has heard from, they will not follow the new screening guidelines. MD Anderson, the Mayo Clinic, Baylor, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Fox Chase Cancer Center were among many hospitals that said they are sticking with the current guidelines, recommended by the American Cancer Society.

The task force has defended its rationale for the change. Dr. Diana Petitti, vice chairwoman of the task force, said it reviewed a number of studies to compile the benefits of mammograms, such as how many cancers were detected and how many lives were saved, and the "harms" of mammograms, such as how many false positives popped up, how many unnecessary tests were done and how much extra radiation women were exposed to during the false positive testing.

The task force then used calculations and mathematical models to see how these benefits and "harms" would change if women started getting routine mammograms at different ages and different intervals.

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