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Panel of Medical Experts Reasserts Stance On Mammogram Recommendations

In 2009, outrage ensued when a panel of medical experts released guidelines suggesting that rather than starting mammogram screenings at age 40 and ensuring that screenings are annual, women with an average risk of breast cancer could safely begin screenings at age 50. In response, many health advocates stated that the 10-year delay in screenings could lead to misdiagnosis and a higher rate of breast cancer-related deaths.

In early January of 2016, the panel reassessed its recommendation and issued new guidelines. However, there is little change to be observed; the new guidelines reassert the original recommendation that women with an average risk of breast cancer need not begin mammogram screenings until age 50. The recommendation has left many in the health community concerned about delayed diagnosis and insurance coverage.

Health Insurance and Mammogram Screenings

Many are concerned the recommendations will lead to a change in insurance coverage for mammography screenings, leaving the most vulnerable and at-risk members of society unprotected. According to an article published in The New York Times, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation stated that a lack of coverage would leave “high risk and underserved” women at risk, particularly expressing concern over lack of insurance for black women, who have higher rates of breast cancer.

The good news is that the recommendation will not be affecting insurance coverage immediately. However, a change may occur in 2017 due to a December 2015 bill that requires private insurers to pay for mammogram screenings for women starting at age 40. The legislation imposes the requirement through the year 2017. It is possible that the law will change, and that insurance companies will not be required to pay for mammograms until a woman reaches her 50th year.

When Breast Cancer is Undetected or Misdiagnosed

As stated above, another concern with the recommendation is that by not screening women for breast cancer until age 50, breast cancer may go undetected or undiagnosed, leading to inevitable patient harm due to advancement of the cancer. While the panel’s evidence on which the recommendation is based suggests that beginning screenings later in life is perfectly safe for those with an average risk, the effect that the recommendation may have on death rates is yet to be seen. When breast cancer is not detected early on, it can quickly spread through the body, making it much more difficult to effectively treat.

How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help You

Despite the panel’s recommendation, your doctor still has an obligation to take the proper steps necessary and that meet the medical standard of care if you are at-risk for breast cancer or are experiencing cancer symptoms. When the standard of care is violated and your cancer is undiagnosed and untreated, leading to harm, you have the right to a civil action. To learn more about this right and how to file a claim, as well as what types of damages are available, you need an experienced New Jersey and Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney on your side.

Breast cancer is an awful disease. At the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we understand the anguish your family is going through. For a free case consultation, call us today at (215) 567-3500.

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