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Kaiser Pushes Routine Mammograms Despite Federal Recommendation

Aired 10/20/11 on KPBS News.

Kaiser Permanente mounted a massive effort today to encourage women to get a mammogram. Research suggests routine mammograms might do more harm than good.

Kaiser Permanente is trying to set a world record in San Diego today, by having more than 350 women get a mammogram. The effort flies in the face of a federal recommendation.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says routine mammograms may be harmful. That's because the more tests a women has for breast cancer, the more likely it is she'll get a false-positive result. The task force says women should delay screenings until age 50, and then have one only every other year.

A recent study that followed 170,000 women for 10 years reinforced the idea that annual mammograms may do more harm than good.

Kaiser Permanente Vice-President Mary Ann Barnes doesn't buy it.

"Mammograms are the best tool we have in healthcare to screen," Barnes said. "For myself, I know my age, I know my family history -- I get a mammogram every year.""

Kaiser's effort to set the one-day record for mammograms involves clinics at ten different locations, including Carlsbad and Otay Mesa.

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