Nightly News   |  November 18, 2009

Mammogram policy 'has not changed,' Sebelius says

Nov. 18: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talks to NBC's Ann Curry about the government's position toward new recommendations that women shouldn't have screening mammograms until age 50.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> nbc news, new york.

>> well, this afternoon we asked health and human services secretary kathleen sebelius how women should interpret the statement she put out today.

>> secretary sebelius, why are you stepping away from the panel's recommendations on mammograms and in so doing sending a mixed message to the american people ?

>> well, ann, i think it's important that we clear up the confusion that's probably out across america. women are at kitchen tables trying to figure out now what is their next step. i think the next step is what they've always done, which is certainly take a look at the guideline recommendations but then have a conversation with your physician because the individual case history, the individual family history , what your body type is, what your background is is the best indicator of how often you should have this very important screening technique, a mammogram, and how frequently it should be done.

>> are you telling women to ignore the recommendations of this panel?

>> i'm telling women to take a look at the recommendations of the panel, which are, you know, looking globally at tens of thousands of cases, but then take that information and have a conversation with your doctor.

>> are you saying that women should still consider having mammograms beginning at age 40?

>> absolutely.

>> some people are saying that your response to the panel's recommendations are essentially throwing this panel under the bus. your reaction to that.

>> well, the panel, ann, has been in place for a number of years. it's an independent body of health care providers and scientists. they routinely update various recommendations. the last time they updated guidelines dealing with breast cancer was 2002 . they'll continue to do this. so i want to make sure that women across america don't take this news anyplace but directly to their medical provider, talk about their history, and figure out what the best strategy is moving forward.

>> thank you so much, secretary sebelius, for speaking to us.