BETHESDA -- An advisory board to the National Cancer Institute has voted to drop federal guidelines urging that women under age 50 get routine mammograms to screen for breast cancer.
Yesterday's ground-breaking decision, opposed by many medical groups, reinforced a growing consensus among experts who say that the test does not save lives for women under 50.
The recommendation of the Cancer Prevention and Control Advisory Board, expected to be upheld in coming months by the entire NCI, is not binding on doctors and their patients.
But experts from the American Cancer Society and other groups testified that it will have a chilling effect on mammography use in general for women of all ages, even though studies have shown a 30 percent improvement in survival rate for women who get the breast X-ray at age 50 or above.
The board's decision, some experts said, will create confusion and fear among legions of younger women.