November 16, 2009 the Washington Post reports new screening guideline issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommending against women receiving routine screening with mammograms for breast cancer prior to age 50.
Petitti, Chairman of the Task Force, asserts that the new recommendation will result in “just” 0.7 deaths for every thousand women who now will not be screened. His justification for this remarkable statement is that allowing these 0.7 women per thousand to die will prevent many from suffering the anxiety of a false-positive result. He goes on to say that 33 more women per thousand would be spared unnecessary biopsies. I wonder how many women would be willing to take a 3.5% risk of an unnecessary biopsy to avoid a .7 in 1000 chance of dying.
It is incredible that this Task Force apparently values a women’s life so cheaply.
I guess 0.7 deaths are hard to give a name. Perhaps they should have put it differently. For every 1,429 women who now will probably not be screened, one woman will die.
What do you think?