Another war of words ensued following publication in 2000 of statistical analyses by Scandinavian representatives of the Cochrane Collaborative. In short, two authors concluded in the journal Lancet that mammography does not save lives and exposes women to unnecessary surgical procedures.But a 2004 examination of the Scandinavians' methods showed that the authors reached their conclusions by excluding from analysis all positive studies, which they dismissed as being of poor quality.
Whether the controversy ever reaches a resolution remains anyone's guess at this point. For the time being, proponents of routine screening for younger women appear to have the upper hand. ACS, ACOG, and ACR have all reaffirmed their support, and NCI issued a statement that the agency's position on mammography remains unchanged.
Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued what might be considered the final word -- at least for the time being.
Noting that the Preventive Services Task Force does not make health policy, Sebelius urged women to "keep doing what you have been doing for years -- talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you."