"There's no breast cancer expertise on that panel, and I think it's hard to develop guidelines with the data as it is without understanding breast cancer," he said. "It's certainly not a change in the evidence. Something else is at work."
While false positives may create problems for some patients, many seem to feel that those are outweighed by the deaths that can result if the screening is not done, something that will present a challenge to any desire to change screening guidelines.
"At the Methodist Breast Center, we diagnose and/or treat about 500 patients with breast cancer every year," said Dr. Luz Venta, medical director of the Methodist Breast Center in Houston and fellow of the Society of Breast Imaging, in a statement. "And about 21 percent of these are women under age 50. Should these women be sent away and told the cost of screening for breast cancer is not justified in the number of lives that can be saved?"
That sentiment was echoed by many, some of them survivors of breast cancer themselves, who flooded the message boards of breast cancer groups like breastcancer.org and the Susan Love Foundation to protest the new guidelines.
Thompson, whose sentiments run along those same lines, said she worries about getting her own daughters, the oldest of whom is in her teens, proper screening when they reach the right age, and is concerned that future recommendations might change how soon they get screened.
"I will move heaven and earth to have them screened at 30," said Thompson, affirming the recommendation that women with a first-degree relative with breast cancer get screened 10 years before cancer first appeared in that relative.
But Thompson, reflecting the sentiments of other survivors of breast cancer, also said she worries that any recommendation for screening that would have excluded her also devalues the lives of other potential breast cancer survivors.
"It's disheartening to hear the new guidelines, when they talk about the few lives that are saved," she said. "It's hard not to feel a little devalued by that."