News FocusPUBLIC HEALTH

Brawling Over Mammography

Science  19 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5968, pp. 936-938
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5968.936

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Summary

The timing of a scientific report last fall that questioned the value of screening women routinely for breast cancer before age 50 was bad, coming just as Democrats were trying to push health reform through Congress. To opponents of the legislation, the report smacked of "medical rationing" by bureaucrats, the kind they claimed to see in the bills. It became a huge distraction, and in the end the Obama Administration quietly distanced itself from the findings. The flap continued, loud and angry, for days. Experts and nonexperts lobbed critiques and rebuttals, at times questioning one another's motives. Researchers who had worked on the guidelines were disappointed that their analysis was being dismissed out of hand.