Congresswoman wants hearings on new breast cancer screening guidelines

Congress may hold hearings on a government panel's new recommendations for breast cancer screenings, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said Tuesday.

Wasserman Schultz, who earlier this year revealed that she'd undergone a double mastectomy and treatments for breast cancer in 2008, blasted a United States Preventive Services Task Force report recommending that women begin screening for the cancer at age 50, instead of age 40, as is currently recommended.

"We can't turn literally 20 years of recommendations ...upside down, and discourage women from becoming familiar with the look and feel of their breasts," the Florida lawmaker and Democratic chief deputy whip said during an appearance on MSNBC.

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Wasserman Schultz said Congress should "most definitely" consider hearings on the guidelines by the panel, which is appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services, but functions independently.

"I think we need to make sure we explore these recommendations," Wasserman Schultz said. "They're very disturbing."

The congresswoman, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 40s, said she is concerned that health insurers would adapt the guidelines and not cover mammograms for women before the age of 50.

"We can't allow the insurance industry to continue to drive healthcare decisions," she argued, saying that those concerns help make the case for Democrats' health reform efforts.

Update, 2:17 p.m.: Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) announced he'll have a hearing early next month on the breast cancer screening recommendations.

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