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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is This A Health Care Red Flag For US Policy?

There may be no need to feel guilty about putting off your annual trip to the gynecologist anymore! New guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists assert that healthy women should not get cervical cancer screening pap tests every year. Instead they encourage women to get the screening every two to three years. The medical group also recommends against getting a pap test until after the age of 21, even if an adolescent is sexually active.

What are the new rules for getting mammograms?

After commissioning two studies that reviewed the risks and benefits of breast cancer screening, the USPSTF announced changes to the current mammogram guidelines, which the same group instituted in 2002. For average-risk women, they recommend:
1-No routine mammograms for women ages 40 to 49
2-Every-other-year mammograms for women ages 50 to 74
3-No need for clinicians to teach women to do breast self-exams

The new recommendations against annual cervical cancer screenings are not intended to save you embarrassment or discomfort — they're meant to prevent unnecessary and possibly harmful treatments. For example, treatment of precancerous HPV symptoms that would otherwise go away on their own puts women at a higher risk of giving birth to a premature or underweight baby. Still, cervical cancer rates have dropped 50 percent since the 1970s mostly thanks to the pap test, so I hope the doctors aren't trying to fix something that isn't broken. But the authors of the guidelines explain that the same results can be accomplished with less-regular screenings.

I'll admit the idea that less screening can be better for your sexual health seems counterintuitive. Will you stick to your annual pap test or do you welcome a chance to get one less frequently?

Is this recommendation designed to protect our population’s health or is it the beginning of restrictions to cut services at the expense of early detection? Do we need clarification on this matter and if so should we hurriedly pass the bill that has been presented by the White House?

We need a better system of health care that provides everyone the health care that is necessary, at a cost that we can all afford. Is this a better solution? I for one have consistently been an advocate of universal health care from a humanitarian prospective but I am not sure that this “Change” that we are going forth with is the kind of change that we need. Again what will be the cost in terms of availability of services, or unavailability of services and money that would saddle us with an unprecedented National Debt that will affect our children and grandchildren?

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