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White House backs off cancer test guidelines

Washington Post, November 19, 2009

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the controversial new guidelines for breast cancer screening do not represent government policy. In a written statement, Sebelius said the new guidelines had "caused a great deal of confusion and worry among women and their families across this country," and she stressed that they were issued by "an outside independent panel of doctors and scientists who . . . do not set federal policy and . . . don't determine what services are covered by the federal government." The U.S Preventive Services Task Force had recommended that women in their 40s not undergo routine mammograms and instead individually discuss with their doctors whether to have the exams. The panel also said that women in their 50s should have routine mammograms every two years, instead of annually.