Murkowski Leads Bipartisan Effort Calling for Senate Hearing on Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, joined by a bipartisan group of fellow senators, today called on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) to hold a hearing on controversial new breast screening recommendations made by a federal task force.

Murkowski authored a letter (attached) , co-signed by 21 of her colleagues, to the chairman and ranking Republican member of the HELP committee asking for a hearing. A HELP committee member, Murkowski said the recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have been widely criticized by patients and doctors alike and could prove devastating for women at risk for breast cancer.

Last week, the task force announced it no longer recommends routine mammogram screening for women in their 40s and advised women 50 and over to get a mammogram just once every two years. The task force’s previous recommendations urged women 40 and older to get a screening mammography as often as once a year. By contrast, the American Cancer Society recommends that women 40 and over receive a mammogram each year to screen for breast cancer.

“These recommendations have caused great confusion among women,” Murkowski said. “And to compound that confusion, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said afterwards that women in their 40s should continue to get mammograms. Women are seeking answers and are asking their elected representatives whether the task force’s findings will put them at increased risk for this deadly disease. We clearly need a hearing to better understand how this task force came to its conclusions.”

Murkowski’s letter was addressed to HELP Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa and committee Ranking Member Mike Enzi of Wyoming. It was co-signed by U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, David Vitter of Louisiana, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, John Thune of South Dakota, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Jim Risch of Idaho, Barbara Boxer of California, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, John Ensign of Nevada, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Ben Cardin of Maryland, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Charles Schumer of New York, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Olympia Snowe of Maine.